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How does UK productivity compare?

Latest, revised estimates for 2009 show that the UK’s productivity level, when measured on a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per worker basis, was well below the G7 level and over 30% below the US performance, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Whilst our productivity was higher than Japan’s, and broadly similar to Canada and Germany, it was below France, Italy and the US. However, when measured on a GDP per hour worked basis, which takes account of different working patterns across countries, UK productivity is above Japan, on a par with Italy and Canada, but below France, Germany and the US.

The latest figures can be seen in the graphic below.

GDP per worker Source: ONS

However, when we look at how well the UK has improved productivity growth since 1991 we find a better picture. In terms of GDP per worker, UK productivity increased by 40 percentage points between 1991 and 2007, the fastest of all G7 countries.

Unfortunately, GDP per worker fell by 6 percentage points between 2007 and 2009, although similar falls were recorded in Germany, Italy and Japan and only the US experienced an increase over this period.

When we look at GDP per hour worked, again UK productivity grew by 44 percentage points between 1991 and 2009, the fastest of all G7 countries. But, in 2009, the UK experienced the largest fall in GDP per hour worked amongst G7 countries, due to changes in growth patterns over recent years.

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