Productivity and Costs by Industry: Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, and Food Services and Drinking Places, 2014 News Release


For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, August 6, 2015                                                 USDL-15-1514

Technical Information:	(202) 691-5618  •  dipsweb@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/lpc 
Media Contact:		(202) 691-5902  •  PressOffice@bls.gov



                                  PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS BY INDUSTRY: WHOLESALE TRADE, 
                          RETAIL TRADE, AND FOOD SERVICES AND DRINKING PLACES INDUSTRIES, 2014

Labor productivity - defined as output per hour - rose 2.6 percent in wholesale trade, 1.9 percent in 
retail trade, and 0.3 percent in food services and drinking places in 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor 
Statistics reported today. Unit labor costs, which reflect the total labor costs required to produce a unit 
of output, also rose in all three sectors. 

Productivity in wholesale trade rose faster in 2014 than in 2013. Both output and hours increased at a 
higher rate than the previous year. In retail trade, output rose at a slightly slower rate and hours 
increased after falling the previous year, leading to a smaller productivity rise than in 2013. The 
productivity increase in food services and drinking places in 2014 resulted from an increase in output 
that exceeded that of hours. 

Labor Productivity Trends in 2014

Productivity increased in 30 of the 49 detailed 4-digit NAICS industries studied in 2014. Both output 
and hours grew in 42 industries. Unit labor costs fell in 18 industries in 2014.

In wholesale trade, productivity rose 2.6 percent as output grew 4.3 percent and hours increased 1.7 
percent. Productivity grew 2.4 percent in durable goods wholesalers and 3.1 percent in nondurable 
goods wholesalers. Productivity increased in 16 of the 19 detailed wholesale trade industries, while 
output rose in 17 industries and hours grew in 18. Productivity increased most rapidly in apparel and 
piece goods and druggists’ goods, as output rose substantially in each. Unit labor costs declined in eight 
industries.

In retail trade, productivity grew 1.9 percent, as output rose 3.9 percent and hours rose 2.0 percent. 
Productivity increased in 13 of the 27 detailed retail trade industries, as output grew in 22 industries and 
hours rose in 21. The largest productivity increases were in beer, wine, and liquor stores and electronics 
and appliance stores. Output increased strongly in both of these industries. Unit labor costs fell in nine 
industries.

In food services and drinking places, productivity rose 0.3 percent, as output grew 3.7 percent and 
hours rose 3.3 percent. Output and hours rose in all three of the detailed industries in this sector, while 
only restaurants and other eating places recorded an increase in productivity. Unit labor costs rose in two 
of the industries.

Productivity increased in 11 of the 16 3-digit NAICS industries studied in 2014. Productivity gains of at 
least 5 percent occurred in 2 industries where output increased strongly: electronics and appliance stores 
and health and personal care stores.

Unit labor costs fell in 5 out of 16 3-digit NAICS industries in 2014. All unit labor cost declines 
occurred in industries where productivity rose. Conversely, each of the industries where productivity fell 
also recorded an increase in unit labor costs. Labor compensation rose in 2014 in all 16 industries. 

Of the 12 largest detailed wholesale trade, retail trade, and food services and drinking places industries, 
ranked by employment size, output rose in 10 industries and hours rose in 8. Productivity growth was 
greatest in health and personal care stores, where output grew and hours declined. Productivity fell the 
most in special food services, where strong growth in hours outpaced the increase in output.

Labor Productivity Trends in Selected Time Periods

From 1987 to 2014, productivity increased at an average annual rate of 3.1 percent in wholesale trade, 
2.8 percent in retail trade, and 0.4 percent in food services and drinking places. Unit labor costs rose in 
wholesale trade and in food services and drinking places, and were unchanged in retail trade from 1987 
to 2014.

Among the detailed 4-digit NAICS industries, productivity rose in approximately 89 percent of 
wholesale trade industries, 100 percent of retail trade industries, and 67 percent of food services and 
drinking places industries from 1987 to 2014. Median productivity growth among these industries was 
2.2 percent per year. Productivity growth over the long term was associated with rising output in many 
industries, while hours increased in slightly more than half.

Productivity also increased in about two-thirds of the detailed industries studied between 2007 and 2014, 
despite the fact that the period encompassed a recession. However, only 55 percent of the industries saw 
increases in output, while 37 percent experienced growth in hours.

Additional Information

The trade and food services and drinking places measures in this release incorporate preliminary data 
from the Census Bureau’s Annual Wholesale Trade Report (February 2015), Monthly Wholesale Trade 
Survey (May 2015), Annual Retail Trade Survey (March 2015), and the Annual Revision of the 
Monthly Retail and Food Services: Sales and Inventories (May 2015), as well as data from the Census 
Bureau’s Nonemployer Statistics (May 2015). The labor productivity and output series for all industries 
have been revised for 2013 and earlier years as a result. This news release also incorporates the annual 
benchmark revision of the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey published in February 
2015. In addition, the unit labor cost measures incorporate preliminary data from the BLS Quarterly 
Census of Employment and Wages (June 2015). All of the measures for 2014 in this release are 
preliminary and subject to revision. 

For the first time, the industries included in this news release are classified according to the 2012 
NAICS. Indexes have been rebased from 2002=100 to 2007=100 starting with this release. While the 
rates of change reported by BLS in this release are rounded to one decimal place, all percent changes are 
calculated using index numbers rounded to three decimal places.

Year-to-year movements in industry productivity may be erratic, particularly in smaller industries. The 
annual measures based on sample data may differ from measures generated by a census of 
establishments in the industry. Annual changes in an industry’s output and use of labor may reflect 
cyclical changes in the economy as well as long-term trends. As a result, long-term productivity trends 
tend to be more reliable indicators of industry performance than year-to-year changes.

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                                          Technical Note

Labor Productivity: The industry labor productivity measures describe the relationship between 
industry output and the labor time involved in its production. They show the changes from period to 
period in the amount of goods and services produced per hour. Although the labor productivity measures 
relate output to hours of all persons in an industry, they do not measure the specific contribution of labor 
or any other factor of production. Rather, they reflect the joint effects of many influences, including: 
changes in technology; capital investment; utilization of capacity, energy, and materials; the use of 
purchased services inputs, including contract employment services; the organization of production; the 
characteristics and effort of the workforce; and managerial skill.
      
Output: Industry output is measured as an annual-weighted index of the changes in the various products 
or services (in real terms) provided for sale outside the industry. Real industry output for data in this 
release is derived by deflating nominal sales or values of production using BLS price indexes. Industry 
output measures are constructed primarily using data from the economic censuses and annual surveys of 
the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, together with information on price changes 
primarily from BLS.
      
Labor Hours: Labor hours reflect annual hours worked by all employed persons in an industry. Data on 
industry employment and hours come primarily from the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) 
survey and the Current Population Survey (CPS). CES data on the number of total and nonsupervisory 
worker jobs held by wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments are supplemented with CPS 
self-employed and unpaid family worker data to estimate industry employment. Hours worked estimates 
are derived using CES and CPS employment, CES data on average weekly hours paid of nonsupervisory 
workers, CPS data on hours of supervisory, self-employed, and unpaid family workers, and ratios of 
hours-worked to hours-paid based on data from the BLS National Compensation Survey (NCS). For 
some industries, employment and hours data are supplemented or further disaggregated using data from 
the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), the Census Bureau, or other sources. 
Hours worked are estimated separately for different types of workers and then are directly aggregated; 
no adjustments for labor composition are made. 

Unit Labor Costs: Unit labor costs represent the cost of labor required to produce one unit of output. 
The unit labor cost indexes are computed by dividing an index of nominal labor compensation by an 
index of real industry output. Unit labor costs also describe the relationship between compensation per 
hour and real output per hour (labor productivity). Increases in hourly compensation increase unit labor 
costs; increases in labor productivity offset hourly compensation increases and lower unit labor costs. 

Labor Compensation: Labor compensation, defined as payroll plus supplemental payments, is a 
measure of the cost to the employer of securing the services of labor. Payroll includes salaries, wages, 
commissions, dismissal pay, bonuses, vacation and sick leave pay, and compensation in kind. 
Supplemental payments include both legally required expenditures and payments for voluntary 
programs. The legally required portion consists primarily of Federal old age and survivors’ insurance, 
unemployment compensation, and workers’ compensation. Payments for voluntary programs include all 
programs not specifically required by legislation, such as the employer portion of private health 
insurance and pension plans. Industry compensation measures are constructed primarily using data from 
the BLS QCEW and the economic censuses of the Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce.



Table 1. Percent change in labor productivity, unit labor costs, and related data, 2013-2014
Industry 2012 NAICS code 2014
Employment
(thousands)
Percent change, 2013-2014
Labor productivity Output Hours Labor compensation Unit labor costs

Wholesale Trade

Wholesale trade

42

5,983.0 2.6 4.3 1.7 4.9 0.5

Durable goods

423

2,986.5 2.4 4.7 2.3 4.5 -0.2

Motor vehicles and parts

4231

337.7 2.6 3.0 0.4 8.4 5.2

Furniture and furnishings

4232

104.0 0.7 3.3 2.6 3.2 -0.1

Lumber and construction supplies

4233

203.9 1.4 1.8 0.4 5.8 3.9

Commercial equipment

4234

636.5 3.1 5.4 2.2 3.8 -1.5

Metals and minerals

4235

129.2 2.7 8.6 5.7 7.0 -1.4

Appliances and electric goods

4236

327.5 1.8 7.9 6.0 3.9 -3.7

Hardware and plumbing

4237

238.7 1.1 3.2 2.0 3.9 0.7

Machinery and supplies

4238

685.2 3.6 6.1 2.4 4.9 -1.2

Miscellaneous durable goods

4239

323.8 -1.5 -1.4 0.1 2.0 3.4

Nondurable goods

424

2,090.2 3.1 4.1 1.0 5.3 1.2

Paper and paper products

4241

125.7 2.4 3.7 1.3 2.8 -0.9

Druggists' goods

4242

196.1 6.6 7.0 0.3 9.2 2.1

Apparel and piece goods

4243

151.4 9.7 8.4 -1.2 1.9 -6.0

Grocery and related products

4244

773.2 2.3 2.9 0.5 6.0 3.1

Farm product raw materials

4245

81.7 6.2 11.7 5.1 -0.4 -10.8

Chemicals

4246

132.8 3.1 4.9 1.8 5.8 0.9

Petroleum

4247

100.9 -3.6 2.5 6.3 6.7 4.1

Alcoholic beverages

4248

187.1 2.0 2.1 0.1 5.2 3.0

Miscellaneous nondurable goods

4249

341.3 -2.1 -1.5 0.7 2.9 4.5

Electronic markets and agents and brokers

425

906.3 2.4 3.6 1.2 5.2 1.6

Electronic markets and agents and brokers

4251

906.3 2.4 3.6 1.2 5.2 1.6

Retail Trade

Retail trade

44-45

16,196.5 1.9 3.9 2.0 4.8 0.8

Motor vehicle and parts dealers

441

1,921.7 3.7 7.5 3.7 6.3 -1.1

Automobile dealers

4411

1,219.2 4.4 8.1 3.6 7.4 -0.6

Other motor vehicle dealers

4412

143.0 3.8 8.4 4.5 5.3 -2.8

Auto parts, accessories, and tire stores

4413

559.5 -2.4 1.1 3.6 2.9 1.8

Furniture and home furnishings stores

442

491.2 -0.2 6.1 6.4 7.2 1.0

Furniture stores

4421

229.5 1.7 7.5 5.8 6.5 -1.0

Home furnishings stores

4422

261.7 -2.4 4.5 7.0 8.0 3.3

Electronics and appliance stores

443

516.2 5.7 9.3 3.5 2.2 -6.5

Electronics and appliance stores

4431

516.2 5.7 9.3 3.5 2.2 -6.5

Building material and garden supply stores

444

1,278.5 3.6 4.6 0.9 4.0 -0.5

Building material and supplies dealers

4441

1,106.9 4.4 4.0 -0.4 2.9 -1.1

Lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores

4442

171.6 -1.1 8.1 9.4 12.5 4.0

Food and beverage stores

445

3,090.1 -1.3 1.3 2.7 4.4 3.1

Grocery stores

4451

2,671.6 -2.0 0.9 2.9 4.4 3.5

Specialty food stores

4452

255.4 3.0 6.7 3.5 7.3 0.6

Beer, wine and liquor stores

4453

163.1 6.7 3.7 -2.9 -0.2 -3.8

Health and personal care stores

446

1,065.7 5.0 3.9 -1.0 3.2 -0.8

Health and personal care stores

4461

1,065.7 5.0 3.9 -1.0 3.2 -0.8

Gasoline stations

447

889.6 -0.4 -0.1 0.3 4.0 4.1

Gasoline stations

4471

889.6 -0.4 -0.1 0.3 4.0 4.1

Clothing and clothing accessories stores

448

1,468.9 1.5 2.3 0.8 3.2 0.8

Clothing stores

4481

1,079.9 4.7 2.0 -2.6 1.4 -0.6

Shoe stores

4482

206.2 -7.2 2.9 10.8 5.4 2.4

Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores

4483

182.8 -2.9 3.4 6.5 7.9 4.4

Sports, hobby, music instruments, book stores

451

676.4 -2.1 1.3 3.4 3.9 2.6

Sporting goods and musical instrument stores

4511

578.3 -1.0 1.7 2.7 4.6 2.8

Book stores and news dealers

4512

98.1 -8.2 -1.0 7.8 0.0 1.0

General merchandise stores

452

3,123.5 2.8 2.6 -0.2 3.1 0.5

Department stores

4521

1,349.5 1.2 -0.8 -2.0 1.1 2.0

Other general merchandise stores

4529

1,774.0 2.6 3.8 1.2 4.4 0.6

Miscellaneous store retailers

453

976.4 0.3 2.6 2.3 5.1 2.5

Florists

4531

88.7 -11.7 4.4 18.2 14.0 9.2

Office supplies, stationery and gift stores

4532

307.9 3.7 0.9 -2.7 -1.9 -2.8

Used merchandise stores

4533

219.6 2.8 4.0 1.2 6.9 2.8

Other miscellaneous store retailers

4539

360.2 -0.5 3.0 3.4 8.3 5.2

Nonstore retailers

454

698.3 -1.8 6.3 8.2 11.1 4.6

Electronic shopping and mail-order houses

4541

387.6 -1.3 8.5 9.9 15.3 6.3

Vending machine operators

4542

46.9 -6.8 -1.7 5.5 3.6 5.4

Direct selling establishments

4543

263.8 -8.2 -2.7 6.1 4.1 6.9

Food Services and Drinking Places

Food services and drinking places

722

10,932.9 0.3 3.7 3.3 5.4 1.6

Special food services

7223

774.1 -4.7 4.0 9.0 2.3 -1.6

Drinking places, alcoholic beverages

7224

371.3 0.0 1.3 1.4 3.6 2.2

Restaurants and other eating places

7225

9,787.5 0.9 3.8 2.9 5.8 2.0

Restaurants and other eating places

72251

9,787.5 0.9 3.8 2.9 5.8 2.0

Full-service restaurants

722511

5,091.1 2.5 4.9 2.4 5.8 0.9

Limited-service eating places

722513,4,5

4,696.4 -0.8 2.6 3.4 5.8 3.0



Table 2. Average annual percent change in labor productivity, unit labor costs, and related data, 1987-2014
Industry 2012 NAICS code Average annual percent change, 1987-2014
Labor productivity Output Hours Labor compensation Unit labor costs

Wholesale Trade

Wholesale trade

42

3.1 3.5 0.3 4.2 0.7

Durable goods

423

4.9 4.9 0.0 4.1 -0.8

Motor vehicles and parts

4231

3.9 3.5 -0.4 3.5 0.0

Furniture and furnishings

4232

2.1 1.6 -0.5 3.7 2.0

Lumber and construction supplies

4233

1.4 1.5 0.1 2.8 1.3

Commercial equipment

4234

12.7 12.9 0.2 4.4 -7.5

Metals and minerals

4235

-0.2 0.1 0.3 3.7 3.7

Appliances and electric goods

4236

8.3 7.8 -0.5 4.2 -3.4

Hardware and plumbing

4237

1.8 2.3 0.5 4.2 1.8

Machinery and supplies

4238

2.3 2.3 0.0 4.2 1.8

Miscellaneous durable goods

4239

1.3 2.0 0.7 4.5 2.4

Nondurable goods

424

1.7 1.8 0.1 4.3 2.4

Paper and paper products

4241

1.3 0.6 -0.7 2.8 2.2

Druggists' goods

4242

4.1 5.2 1.1 8.2 2.8

Apparel and piece goods

4243

2.8 2.3 -0.4 3.2 0.9

Grocery and related products

4244

1.2 1.9 0.6 4.3 2.4

Farm product raw materials

4245

1.8 0.1 -1.6 3.9 3.8

Chemicals

4246

0.8 1.1 0.3 4.2 3.0

Petroleum

4247

2.8 1.2 -1.5 3.2 2.0

Alcoholic beverages

4248

-0.1 1.8 1.9 5.1 3.2

Miscellaneous nondurable goods

4249

0.3 -0.1 -0.4 3.0 3.1

Electronic markets and agents and brokers

425

0.7 3.0 2.3 4.7 1.7

Electronic markets and agents and brokers

4251

0.7 3.0 2.3 4.7 1.7

Retail Trade

Retail trade

44-45

2.8 3.2 0.4 3.3 0.0

Motor vehicle and parts dealers

441

2.1 2.9 0.7 3.5 0.7

Automobile dealers

4411

2.2 2.9 0.7 3.6 0.6

Other motor vehicle dealers

4412

2.7 3.5 0.7 4.3 0.8

Auto parts, accessories, and tire stores

4413

1.0 1.8 0.8 3.2 1.3

Furniture and home furnishings stores

442

3.7 3.5 -0.2 2.6 -0.9

Furniture stores

4421

3.3 3.0 -0.3 2.3 -0.6

Home furnishings stores

4422

4.3 4.2 -0.2 2.9 -1.2

Electronics and appliance stores

443

11.3 12.1 0.7 3.3 -7.8

Electronics and appliance stores

4431

11.3 12.1 0.7 3.3 -7.8

Building material and garden supply stores

444

2.5 3.2 0.6 3.3 0.1

Building material and supplies dealers

4441

2.4 3.1 0.8 3.4 0.2

Lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores

4442

3.4 3.4 0.0 2.5 -0.9

Food and beverage stores

445

0.3 0.3 0.0 2.9 2.5

Grocery stores

4451

0.2 0.3 0.1 3.1 2.8

Specialty food stores

4452

0.2 -0.3 -0.5 1.8 2.1

Beer, wine and liquor stores

4453

2.2 1.2 -1.0 1.7 0.6

Health and personal care stores

446

2.2 3.2 1.0 4.6 1.3

Health and personal care stores

4461

2.2 3.2 1.0 4.6 1.3

Gasoline stations

447

1.5 1.0 -0.5 2.3 1.3

Gasoline stations

4471

1.5 1.0 -0.5 2.3 1.3

Clothing and clothing accessories stores

448

4.1 3.8 -0.3 2.7 -1.1

Clothing stores

4481

4.5 4.3 -0.2 2.8 -1.5

Shoe stores

4482

3.0 2.6 -0.4 1.9 -0.7

Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores

4483

3.2 2.8 -0.4 2.9 0.1

Sports, hobby, music instruments, book stores

451

3.5 4.0 0.4 3.3 -0.6

Sporting goods and musical instrument stores

4511

4.1 4.8 0.7 3.7 -1.1

Book stores and news dealers

4512

1.7 0.9 -0.9 1.7 0.9

General merchandise stores

452

3.1 4.5 1.3 3.6 -0.9

Department stores

4521

0.7 1.0 0.3 1.8 0.8

Other general merchandise stores

4529

5.4 7.9 2.4 5.5 -2.3

Miscellaneous store retailers

453

3.2 3.2 -0.1 2.2 -1.0

Florists

4531

2.3 -0.1 -2.3 0.3 0.3

Office supplies, stationery and gift stores

4532

5.2 4.2 -1.0 1.6 -2.5

Used merchandise stores

4533

4.8 6.3 1.4 3.9 -2.2

Other miscellaneous store retailers

4539

1.1 2.2 1.1 2.5 0.3

Nonstore retailers

454

7.9 8.6 0.7 4.2 -4.1

Electronic shopping and mail-order houses

4541

9.9 14.2 3.9 8.1 -5.4

Vending machine operators

4542

0.2 -2.3 -2.6 0.5 3.0

Direct selling establishments

4543

2.3 0.9 -1.4 1.3 0.4

Food Services and Drinking Places

Food services and drinking places

722

0.4 2.0 1.6 5.1 3.1

Special food services

7223

1.1 2.4 1.3 3.6 1.2

Drinking places, alcoholic beverages

7224

-0.3 -0.7 -0.3 2.6 3.2

Restaurants and other eating places

7225

0.4 2.2 1.8 5.5 3.3

Restaurants and other eating places

72251

0.4 2.2 1.8 5.5 3.3

Full-service restaurants

722511

0.5 2.2 1.7 5.9 3.7

Limited-service eating places

722513,4,5

0.3 2.1 1.9 5.0 2.8

Last Modified Date: August 06, 2015