October 05, 2004
Among 13 economies for which 2003 data are available, manufacturing unit labor costs fell in U.S. dollar terms only in Taiwan.
In the United States, unit labor costs in manufacturing rose 1.6 percent in 2003.
There were double-digit increases in unit labor costs (on a U.S. dollar basis) in eight of the 13 economies studied.
The widespread, and mostly large, increases in unit labor costs in U.S. dollar terms are explained by the depreciation of the dollar, particularly with respect to the euro and other European currencies. The U.S. dollar depreciated against the currencies of all the economies compared, but the depreciation was very slight versus the Taiwan dollar.
These data are from the BLS Foreign Labor Statistics program. Data are subject to revision. For more information, see news release, "International Comparisons of Manufacturing Productivity and Unit Labor Cost Trends, 2003" (PDF) (TXT), USDL 04-1945. Unit labor costs are defined as the cost of labor input required to produce one unit of output. They are computed as labor compensation in nominal terms divided by real output.