Norway - Working conditions

The Norwegian economy is characterized by strong socialist and labor union traditions. The annual wage growth averaged 6.3 percent in 1998, and manufacturing workers' hourly wages were 30-40 percent higher than in the United States. Safety at work and environmental protection are among the most advanced in the world, and the average working time is 37.5 hours per week. Senior executives in Norway, however, are paid considerably less than their U.S. colleagues.

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Norway
Lowest 10% 4.1
Lowest 20% 9.7
Second 20% 14.3
Third 20% 17.9
Fourth 20% 22.2
Highest 20% 35.8
Highest 10% 21.8
Survey year: 1995
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

In 1999, unemployment dropped to 2.9 percent (from 4.1 percent in 1997) due to the continuing economic growth. While skilled and semi-skilled labor has been traditionally available, strong economic expansion since 1992 has led to shortages of some categories of professionals (mostly medical doctors and nurses) and construction workers. The government has a practice of imposing mandatory wage mediation in the event strikes threaten to disrupt the economy seriously. In 1998, for example, the cabinet ordered striking air traffic controllers' and health workers' unions to return their members to work.

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