March 30, 2009
In 2007, 13 of the 19 European countries covered had higher hourly compensation costs than the United States, in most cases more than 20 percent higher. Average costs in the United States were higher than those in most of the economies covered outside of Europe.
In the United States, hourly compensation costs for all employees in manufacturing were $30.56 in 2007. Hourly compensation costs in Denmark ($47.54), Germany ($50.73), and Norway ($55.03) were especially high when compared to the United States—56 percent higher, 66 percent higher, and 80 percent higher, respectively.
Compensation costs in Europe, on average, were almost $9 higher on a per hour basis than in the United States. However, there was great variation in the level of compensation costs among the European countries covered. For example, hourly compensation costs in Europe ranged from $7.69 in Poland to more than seven times that level in Norway—the highest labor cost country in these comparisons.
Outside of Europe, only Canada and Australia had compensation costs higher than the United States when measured in U.S. dollars. In 2007, the lowest compensation costs relative to the United States were in Mexico ($3.91) and the Philippines ($1.37)—13 percent and 4 percent of the U.S. level, respectively.
These data are from the International Labor Comparisons program (formerly called the Foreign Labor Statistics program). To learn more, see "International Comparisons of Hourly Compensation Costs in Manufacturing, 2007" (PDF) (HTML), news release USDL 09-0304.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Manufacturing compensation costs in foreign countries and U.S., 2007 on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2009/mar/wk5/art01.htm (visited December 22, 2014).