The 13 Countries With Higher Manufacturing Salaries Than the U.S.

More

Eleven European countries, plus Australia and Canada pay their manufacturing workers more in compensation -- wages plus benefits -- than the United States, according to BLS data from 2010, the most recent on record. Exchange rate fluctuations make the numbers a bit volatile, but with that caveat out of the way, onto the graphs:


Harry Truman famously begged for one-handed economists. You understand why when you read charts like these. On the one hand, the fact that U.S. manufacturing workers are seeing their salaries fall below the private sector (see below) is good news. It makes them more competitive compared to workers in China and Taiwan. That could mean more U.S. jobs. As the gap closes between U.S. and foreign wages, more manufacturing jobs will stay here, especially when companies factor in the cost of shipping and logistics.

Screen Shot 2011-12-23 at 12.55.24 PM.png

On the other hand, falling salaries aren't so awesome for the workers whose wages aren't keeping up with the rest of economy and find they can't afford the rising cost of health care, higher education, and energy. What you're left with is the inevitable pain of a necessary transition, which might as well be a new rubric for economic coverage. What's good for employment -- cheaper workers -- isn't necessarily better for the employed.


Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In