Mostly True
Biden
"We have the most productive workers in the world."

Joe Biden on Wednesday, July 27th, 2016 in a speech at the Democratic National Convention

Biden: Almost right on U.S. workers as the most productive

Vice President Joe Biden objects to Republican Donald Trump's campaign message. (Bloomberg)

On the third night of the Democratic convention, Vice President Joe Biden took vigorous exception to the Republican message of a nation teetering on the brink.

"Not only do we have the largest economy in the world, we have the strongest economy in the world," Biden said. "We have the most productive workers in the world. And given a fair shot, given a fair chance, Americans have never ever ever let their country down."

Does American have the most productive workers? Not quite. We checked the numbers and found that we rank third, not first.

Productivity is a measure of how much value comes out of each hour worked. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development tracks the performance of the world’s higher income nations.

When the OECD compares the GDP per hour worked across 47 countries (using dollars corrected for inflation and the purchasing power in each nation), it consistently reports that Luxembourg and Norway have more productive workers than the United States.

This table shows the top six countries since 2010.

 

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Luxembourg

78.4

78.2

76

78.4

79.3

81.2

Norway

77.8

77.2

77.8

78.3

78.9

79.7

United States

61.9

62.1

62.2

62.2

62.4

..

Belgium

61.8

61.6

61.4

61.7

62.2

..

Ireland

58.2

60.7

61

60.2

62

..

Netherlands

59.6

60.1

59.9

60.1

60.6

61.3

 

 

For 2014, the most recent year for which we have complete data, America ranks third, as it has since 2010. For each hour worked in Luxembourg, that country gains $79.30. In Norway, the amount is $78.90. In the United States, the value is $62.40.

We reached out to Biden’s press office and were told that when he’s made this comparison before, he has referred to other larger economies, which means the United States ranks first. He left out that qualification this time.

Our ruling

Biden said that America has the most productive workers in the world. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development tracks how much value comes out of each hour worked in the world’s higher income nations.

According to its data, Luxembourg and Norway have more productive workers than America. That ranking has been in place since 2010.

Third is not first. But to place in the top three out of the world’s 47 most wealthy nations is still an achievement.

Biden is wrong on the details, but the general point is correct.

We rate this claim Mostly True.

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