Press Releases

Stalling productivity and high working hours shows the economy not working for many

New Economics Foundation react to today’s ONS stats

Today’s ONS stats show that productivity is still stalling in the UK, but we’re still working the longest hours (in full time work) in Europe. 

Aidan Harper, Assistant Researcher at New Economics Foundation, said: 

The ONS figures out today show a continuation of stagnating productivity growth in the UK. GDP has grown by 0.6% over the same period, which is slower than the increase of 1.0% in total hours worked.

At the same time, this month’s release of HSE statistics show that the total number of days lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety stands at 15.4 million, an increase of nearly 3 million on last year’s statistics. One in four of all sick days lost in the UK are as a direct result of workload.

We continually trail our other European countries like Germany and the Netherlands who work fewer hours than we work, yet have much higher levels of productivity. We are working harder, and longer hours, which are causing us serious harm – and yet which has no positive benefit on the economy more broadly.

We have constructed an economy which systematically robs us of the time we have, while not delivering any material benefits in economy. An economy that is failing the vast majority of the population. It is time to learn from our European neighbours and destroy the notion that more hours equals a stronger economy; it doesn’t, and it is causing untold harm. At New Economics Foundation we argue for a shorter working week to help create the conditions upon which we can live rich, fulfilling lives in an economy which works for people, rather than forcing people to work for a failing economy.


Sofie Jenkinson, 07981023031

Notes to Editors

More information on NEF’s work on the shorter working work can be found here: https://​newe​co​nom​ics​.org/​2​0​1​8​/​1​1​/​f​i​v​e​-​r​e​a​s​o​n​s​-​w​h​y​-​n​e​f​-​s​u​p​p​o​r​t​s​-​t​h​e​-​4​-​d​a​y​-​w​e​e​k​-​c​a​m​paign

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