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Korea’s productivity lags behind OECD

Jan. 26, 2011 - 18:48 By 고영아
South Korea’s workforce productivity in 2009 was lower than that of most Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development-member nations, a government report showed Wednesday.

The country’s per-capita labor productivity marked $56,374, which ranked 23rd among the 31-member OECD, according to research jointly carried out by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and Korea Productivity Center. The two institutes reviewed the OECD National Accounts from 2001-2009.

The figure was 47.5 percent of that of Luxembourg, which topped the list at $118,366, and was 58.4 percent of the United States, they said.

Workforce productivity is the amount of goods and services that a worker produces in a given amount of time. It is the ratio of a volume measure of output to a volume measure of input, according to OECD.

Volume measures of output include gross domestic product and gross value added adjusted for inflation. The number of working hours, workforce jobs and number of people in employment are typical measures of input.

Industry-wise, the country showed a considerable productivity gap among industries, according to the report.

Whereas the average labor productivity of local manufacture workers marked $84,864, ranked 5th, that of service workers was $34,956, which ranked 18th, the report showed.

Hourly labor productivity also ranked among the lowest. Korean workers produced an average of $25 every hour, ranking 28th of the 30 countries surveyed, according to the report.

The ministry said the latest research also showed that improvement in a country’s labor productivity commonly leads to its economic growth.

As a gradual decrease in the number of the country’s workforce is expected for the future, continuous efforts to raise its labor productivity are necessary to achieve future economic growth, they added.

President Lee Myung-bak also said earlier this month that raising the country’s workforce productivity is crucial for the country to become an advanced nation.

“Korea’s per hour workforce productivity falls behind that of the U.S. and Europe. Raising workforce productivity, and thus inducing more of local firms’ domestic investments is imperative,” he said.

By Koh Young-aah (