Time Will Tell: Sweden’s Six-Hour Work Day a Slump or Surge for Manufacturers?

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Gothenburg, Sweden announced its latest plans to abolish the six-hour workday. According to a report by the Atlantic, “The governing coalition has proposed a year-long trial that would divide some municipal workers into a test and control group at the same pay rate, with the test group working six-hour days and the control group working the traditional eight.”

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While Gothenburg may not be the first city to implement such a shift change, global economists expect it may not be the last. Meanwhile, manufacturers worry over lost productivity despite the benefits for workers.

However, Gothenburg mayor Mats Pilhem thinks manufacturers will actually profit. The Local reported Philhem’s sentiment, “[…] he hoped the move would create more jobs, as he had seen evidence that longer shifts entailed less efficiency. In some sectors, such as elderly care, the problem was not staff shortages, he claimed, but people working inefficiently over longer shifts.”

Although, the mandate is limited to Gothenburg, other Swedish officials are considering the benefits as well. The change in policy could temporarily disturb a recovering manufacturing sector as companies adjust to the new workday.

According to Investing.com, as of March, “Swedish Manufacturing PMI rose to a seasonally adjusted 56.5, from 54.6 in the preceding month.”

Indeed, critics are quick to note the potential shortcomings for the manufacturing industry.

In a separate report by The Local, the opposition points out: “At present, many Swedish employers struggle to find competent staff, for example in the manufacturing industry where a lack of technical know-how among job seekers has slowed down production. If Swedish engineers cut their hours, production would slump even further.”

Currently, Swedish manufacturing primarily excels in forest exports (wood) for paper products. There’s a notable electronics industry in Stockholm as well. Metalwork is also a prominent sector. Gothenburg in particular is known for its metal manufactures, including Sweden AB. [/show_to]

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