America's Edge In Factory Pay

Aided by currency shifts, American manufacturers got some modest cost relief last year in their competition with foreign producers. While hourly compensation for U.S. factory workers rose just 2.2%, to $17.10, the Labor Dept. estimates that such costs in Germany and Japan hit new highs of $27.37 and $21.38 an hour, respectively. Hourly costs in the Pacific Tiger economies rose to about $5.81. The low man in the 24-nation tally was Mexico, with compensation of $2.57 an hour--a number that the fallen peso has dragged a lot lower this year.

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