UK productivity still lagging behind France and the US

The UK’s productivity performance continues to be lower than that of France and the US, similar to that of Germany, and above that of Japan, official figures reveal.

UK productivity in 2004, as measured by GDP per worker, was behind that of the average of all other G7 countries, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The US remains at the top of the productivity table with productivity 27% above that of the UK. Germany’s productivity performance was the same as that of the UK.

The ONS says differences of a few percentage points between the productivity estimates for individual countries should not be seen as significant and so the 2004 figures suggest that the UK and Germany have similar levels of productivity.

Also published today are estimates of international comparisons of GDP per hour worked.

The ranking of countries, on this basis, shows the UK was only ahead of Japan, but behind Germany, France and the US, with France remaining the leader.

John Philpott, chief economist at the CIPD, said: “Coming after a year when UK productivity growth plummeted to ground zero, the latest international comparisons will be disappointing for a chancellor who has put considerable effort for almost a decade into closing the productivity gap.

“The underlying problem, mostly overlooked by government policy, is that the vast majority of UK organisations still don’t make a good enough fist of managing the productive resources they do have, especially their people,” Philpott said.

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