When it comes to international comparisons of unit labor costs, Austria's performance in international ratings will be the best in 30 years. Based on an index setting 1981 costs at 100, this year's rating is forecast at just 92. That means that unit labor costs for Austrian industry fell 3 percent relative to its trading partners and 3.5 percent relative to European Union average.

Behind this improvement is steadily rising productivity. Hourly productivity rose 4.5% last year with a forecast of 5% this and next year. This performance places Austria firmly among the world leaders of advanced industrial nations. In contrast, Austria's key to trade partners posted improvements of just 3.3 percent and 2.7 percent for 1997 and 1996, respectively, well below the Alpine nation's performance.

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