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October 1983, Vol. 106, No. 10
Instruments to measure electricity:
industry's productivity growth rises
Output per employee hour in the manufacture of instruments for measuring electricitysuch as oscilloscopes, and voltage and watt-hour metersrose at an average annual rate of 2.4 percent between 1972 and 1981, compared with a 1.9-percent annual rate for all manufacturing. Both output and hours increased substantially over the periodoutput at 8.6 percent a year, employee hours at 6.0 percent.1
The advance in labor productivity was partially associated with the diffusion of automated production machinery, particularly in writing and for installing integrated circuitry in measuring instruments. The growing use of small- and large-scale integrated circuits in electronic instruments was also a factor that spurred productivity improvement.
Year-to-year movements in output per hour deviated considerably from the long-term rate, ranging from a gain of 7.4 percent (in 1980) to a drop of 1.3 percent (in 1979). In general, the year-to-year fluctuations were linked with large increases in output that in turn were accompanied by large increases in employment and hours. (See table 1.) This linkage caused productivity to dip or to rise only slightly in a number of years when growth in output was quite strong. For example, in 1978, output rose, 15.5 percent, but employee hours rose 15.2 percent, resulting in virtually no change in labor productivity. Again, in 1979, an output rise of nearly 11 percent was accompanied by an employee-hour rise of 12 percent, so productivity decreased slightly.
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1 The 1972 Standard Industrial Classification manual classifies Instruments for Measuring and Testing of Electricity and Electrical Signals as 3825. The major products included are: AC watt-hour meters; demand meters; voltage, current, and resistance measuring equipment; multimeters; power and energy measuring equipment; frequency
measuring equipment; waveform measuring and/or analyzing equipment (oscilloscopes); signal generating equipment; field strength and intensity measuring equipment; impedance and standing wave ratio measuring equipment; electronic time measuring and counting equipment; electronic x-y plotters; combination and/or group test sets; component part test sets (semiconductor test equipment); standards and calibration equipment; analyzers for testing characteristics of internal combustion engines; panel meters; switchboard instruments; elapsed time meters; portable instruments; and electrical recording instruments.
Average annual rates of change presented in this article are based on the linear least squares of the logarithm of the index numbers. Extensions of the indexes will appear in the annual BLS Bulletin, "Productivity Measures for Selected Industries."
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