US autoworkers struggle to compete against less developed countries

Steven Rattner wrote in the Sunday Review of the New York Times about the misbelief of a rebound in the US manufacturing sector. Although there has been talk of a new industrial revolution in the US, American manufacturing has struggled to compete as less developed countries have become more adept. In Mexico, where each autoworker earned $7.80 per hour in 2012, auto industry officials say productivity is as high as in the United States, where total compensation costs were $45.34 per hour – see chart below. No surprise then that in 2013, Mexican automobile production was 50 percent higher than seven years earlier, while output in the United States was at the same 2006 levels.

For the United States to remain competitive against countries like Mexico, productivity must continue to rise. But unlike past gains in productivity, these improvements in efficiency are not being passed along to workers.

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