Two programs develop productivity and cost data for elements of the U.S. economy. The Major Sector Productivity and Costs program develops quarterly labor productivity measures for the major U.S. economic sectors including the business sector, the nonfarm business sector, nonfinancial corporations, and manufacturing, along with subsectors of durable and nondurable goods manufacturing.
The Industry Productivity and Costs program develops annual labor productivity and unit labor cost measures for selected U.S. industries at the 2-, 3-, 4-, 5- and 6-digit level as defined in the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Industry measures cover about 55 percent of employment in the nonfarm business sector of the economy.
Indexes of labor productivity show changes in the ratio of output to hours of labor input. These measures are used in economic analysis, public and private policymaking, and forecasting and analysis of prices, wages, and technological change.
However, labor productivity measures should not be interpreted as presenting the contribution of labor to production. Rather, changes over time in the output or labor input may reflect the influence of other factors including variations in the characteristics and efforts of the work-force, changes in the managerial skill, changes in the organization of production, changes in the allocation of resources between sectors, the direct and indirect effects of research and development, and new technology.
Other productivity measures produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics include multifactor productivity measures for the major sectors of the U.S. economy and for 18 3-digit NAICS manufacturing industries; for 86 4-digit NAICS manufacturing industries, the air transportation industry, the railroad transportation industry, and the utility and gas industry. Multifactor productivity measures compare output to a combined set of inputs. These measures were developed initially in 1983 and reflect the role inputs other than labor play in output growth. Annual labor productivity measures are also available for the manufacturing sectors of fourteen foreign countries or areas.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces three sets of labor productivity measures: major sector measures, selected industry measures, and foreign country measures.
For the major sectors, output, measured net of price change and inter-industry transactions, is compared to labor input, measured as hours at work in the sector. Output per hour and related measures of compensation per hour and unit labor costs are maintained for business and nonfarm business from 1947 to the present. Similar measures are also available for manufacturing (total, durable, and nondurable sectors) and for nonfinancial corporations. These measures are available quarterly and are updated and revised eight times a year.
For selected industries, indexes of output per hour (labor productivity), labor compensation, and unit labor costs are maintained. These measures are updated annually.
Quarterly labor productivity measures are available for the:
Annual labor productivity measures are available for:
Business sector output is an annual-weighted index constructed after excluding from gross domestic product (GDP) the following outputs: General government, nonprofit institutions, paid employees of private households, and the rental value of owner-occupied dwellings. Corresponding exclusions also are made in labor inputs. The nonfarm business sector output also excludes the farm sector. Gross domestic product data are prepared by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce as part of the National Income and Product Accounts.
Annual manufacturing output indexes are constructed by deflating the current-dollar industry value of production data from the Bureau of the Census with deflators from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Quarterly manufacturing output measures are based on the index of industrial production prepared monthly by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, adjusted to be consistent with the annual indexes of manufacturing sector output prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Industry output is measured as sectoral output, the total value of goods and services leaving the industry. For most industries output measures are derived from the value of the goods and services produced in the industry, adjusted for price change. Industry output indexes are constructed as annual-weighted indexes that aggregate the growth rates of different industry outputs.
A more thorough discussion of the output data underlying major sector and industry labor productivity measures are available in Chapter 10, "Productivity Measures: Business Sector and Major Subsectors," and Chapter 11, "Industry Productivity Measures," of the BLS Handbook of Methods, pp. 89-109.
Hours and employment data are primarily drawn from the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, which provides monthly survey data on total employment and average weekly hours of production and nonsupervisory workers in nonagricultural establishments. Jobs rather than persons are counted. Weekly paid hours are adjusted to hours at work using data from the National Compensation Survey (NCS). The BLS Hours at Work Survey (HWS) PDF (12K), conducted for this purpose, was used for years prior to 2001. How to view a PDF file. The Office of Productivity and Technology estimates average weekly hours at work for nonproduction and supervisory workers using information from the Current Population Survey (CPS), the CES, and the NCS.
Data from the BLS Current Population Survey are used for farm labor. In the nonfarm sector, the National Income and Product Accounts prepared by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Department of Commerce and the CPS are used to measure labor input for government enterprises, proprietors, and unpaid family workers. All series have been adjusted to take into account the activities of dual jobholders.
The industry productivity measures also rely primarily on data from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, supplemented with data from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Data on employment and average weekly hours are used to construct measures of total hours for different categories of workers. For manufacturing, mining, and utilities industries, hours of production and nonproduction employees are combined. For service-providing industries where the share of self-employed and unpaid family worker hours are relatively large, estimates of the hours of partners, proprietors, and unpaid family workers are added to hours of supervisory and nonsupervisory employees.
A more detailed discussion of the labor data are available in Chapter 10, "Productivity Measures: Business Sector and Major Subsectors," and Chapter 11, "Industry Productivity Measures," of the BLS Handbook of Methods, pp. 89-109.
Last Modified Date: August 21, 2007