The very term "competitiveness" is a contested one. Some observers, like Paul Krugman, think that it doesn't make much sense to talk about national competitiveness. A new paper (gated access) by Delgado, Ketels, Porter, and Stern begs to differ. Entitled "The Determinants of National Competitiveness," the paper constructs an index based on both macroeconomic and microeconomic factors. The authors then go on to consider labor costs relative to this competitiveness index and produce the following graph:
According to the authors' reasoning, France, as you can see, has a high "competitiveness score," which is a measure of its potential output per worker, but also a somewhat high unit labor cost compared to its potential output ranking (the point marked "France" lies above the regression line). As you can see, France looks relatively good compared to its main European competitors. Germany's residual is higher than France's; Spain, Italy, and Greece are off the charts in terms of labor cost relative to potential output. And countries like Singapore, Malaysia, China, India, and Chile are relatively attractive for investment.
So this graph more or less sums up conventional wisdom. But does it make sense? That depends on what one thinks of the index constructed by the authors, which, if you look at the details of the paper, in many ways reflects (and quantifies) conventional wisdom--or conventional neoliberal ideology, if you will. So take these findings cum grano salis. But there is food for thought here.