April 6, 2018 / 1:16 AM / 2 months ago

UK ranks poorly for productivity in low-paid jobs - research

LONDON (Reuters) - Low-paid jobs in Britain are marked by particularly poor levels of productivity compared with those in other major economies, explaining part of Britain’s struggle to squeeze more output from its workers, research showed on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Workers planting pumpkins at Poskitts farm in Goole, Britain May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Yates

Over the past 10 years Britain’s productivity growth - which is key to improving living standards - was the weakest since modern records began and appears to be the slowest since the early 1820s, when Britain was emerging from the Napoleonic wars.

Productivity in British low-paid jobs lags 20 to 30 percent behind equivalent roles in Germany, France, the Netherlands and the United States, according to the report from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and the poverty-focused Joseph Rowntree Foundation think tank.

Only Italy performed worse in this respect among major economies.

Agriculture, arts, entertainment and recreation were among the poorest performing sectors for productivity in Britain, and bad management appeared to play a major role, NIESR said.

“Increasing levels of skill and rates of capital investment in low-wage sectors can play a part in closing the UK’s relative productivity gap with other countries,” NIESR researcher John Forth said.

“However, the UK’s weakness in these sectors lies at least as much in how skills and technologies are put to use, and so close attention must also be given to management practices and the organisation of work.”

In February Britain’s statistics agency said weak productivity growth since the financial crisis owes more than previously thought to people becoming likelier to work in less productive industries.

In 2016 output per hour worked in Britain was 15.1 percent below the average for the rest of the Group of Seven advanced economies and it lagged especially far behind France, Germany and the United States.

Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken

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