Australia behind on productivity levels

Australian businesses need to find new ways of lifting productivity levels after the Australian Productivity Commission released its annual findings.

Despite increased prosperity and higher wages, Australia's multi-factor productivity, which measures the efficiency of both labour and capital, decreased 0.8 per cent in 2013.

Productivity Commission Chairman Peter Harris said the result was a continuation of more than nine years of weak growth in this sector.

"It's a substantial worry that we can't explain this persistent poor multi-factor productivity performance," he said.

"There are various reasons for this, including differences in the rate of investment growth. But the picture painted in the statistics calls for strong policy attention."

When comparing this rate against other countries, the figures did not look so bad. Canada fell 1.1 per cent and New Zealand dropped 1.2 per cent.  When compared to other developed economies in Europe, these figures looked "significantly worse" though.

One industry blamed for the decrease is the mining sector, which is now in decline. If other sectors can't pick up the pace, Australia will face a slowdown in national growth.

Mr Harris told that both businesses and government have a responsibility to improve productivity.  

"At the firm level this involves a choice between whether additional capital or technology is applied and whether additional labour is trained. It comes out of decisions made by firms and by their workforces," he said.

"From a government perspective it is improving the circumstances of competitive entry to markets." 

The commission's report is sure to interest business leaders and SMEs as competition is a key issue both within Australia and globally.

Business owners looking to increase their overall productivity could invest in productivity software which is designed to streamline services and make businesses more competitive in the market.

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