Friday, January 29, 2010
Singaporeans worked world longest hours
truth comment: the senile old fart still dares to speak as if
singaporeans are not working hard enough. they don't have
spurs stuck in their hides, that is what he actually said.
By ANNA TEO
(SINGAPORE) Here's a world-leading pole position for Singapore that probably
explains quite a bit of its dismal productivity record of late.
Beavering away doggedly, Singaporeans may not be aware that they have, for
the past two years, overtaken the industrious South Koreans in notching up
the highest number of hours worked per year, worldwide.
Clocking 2,307 work hours in 2009 - a number that apparently has stayed
constant since 1992, according to The Conference Board's data - the average
Singaporean surpassed the other East Asians, the most hardworking globally.
Going by The Conference Board's Total Economy Database - which carries
'annual working hours' for 51 countries dating from 1950 - the South Koreans
had been the undisputed workhorse world champions for three decades, ever
since they overtook the previous leaders, the Taiwanese, in 1975. The
Koreans and Taiwanese were clocking well over 2,700 hours a year for years.
But - as is the trend worldwide - annual working hours have fallen over the
decades, including Korea's.
Singapore's 'constant' 2,307 annual hours exceeded Korea's in 2008. For
2009, Korea's 2,259 work hours fell behind even Hong Kong's 2,287 hours.
Taiwan clocked in at 2,156 hours, while Japan's 1,722 is close to the US
level (1,742 hours).
Apart from the East Asians, virtually everyone else (except Greece, Chile
and Mexico) put in fewer than 2,000 hours a year, with many well under.
For Singapore, the long hours - especially in a year of poor output such as
2009 - would explain its recent poor productivity figures.
The Conference Board study - which covers various economic indicators for
more than 120 economies - tracks productivity by two measures: GDP per
person employed and GDP per hour worked.
The Conference Board - a Washington-based research organisation - says GDP
per hour is the preferred measure of labour productivity because it measures
labour intensity more adequately.
With productivity 'growth' of minus 14.2 per cent in 2009 (in GDP per
employee terms), Singapore has the poorest number not only in Asia but
worldwide. Average productivity growth across East Asia and the Pacific in
2009 was 2.4 per cent, and minus one per cent worldwide.
The global decline in productivity in 2009 is the first negative in almost
two decades, The Conference Board notes.
Still, Singapore's 2009 labour productivity level is 75 per cent of the US
level in the same year - below only Australia (84.5 per cent) and Hong Kong
(90.5 per cent) in Asia.
Meanwhile, the qualitative measure - total factor productivity (TFP) which
takes into account not just labour inputs but also workforce skills,
machinery and IT capital - is no better for Singapore.
After some fairly good strides over the decade - as high as almost 7 per
cent in 2004 - Singapore's TFP growth plunged from 3.9 per cent in 2007 to
minus 4.9 per cent in 2008.
Still, just on the working hours measure, Singaporeans can have some
consolation. Apparently, back in 1950, people here used to clock 2,520 hours
a year, when total output was far lower. Annual work hours have fallen
steadily through the years, down to 2,307 by 1992.