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March 1989, Vol. 112, No. 3
Productivity continues to rise in many industries during 1987
Arthur S. Herman
Productivity, as measured by output per employee hour, increased in 1987 in more than two-thirds of the industries for which current data are available. More than three-fourths of the same industries recorded gains in 1986.
This article updates all indexes included in the Bureau of Labor Statistics industry productivity measurement program.1 It extends the labor productivity measures through 1987 and includes certain industry multifactor productivity measures through 1986, as well as selected government productivity measures through 1987.
Table 1 shows labor productivity trends in the industries annually covered by the Bureau and includes measures for the following additional industries: men's and boys' suits and coats; agricultural chemicals; carburetors, pistons, rings, and valves; and variety stores.2
Changes in industry labor productivity
Manufacturing. Among major manufacturing industries, both steel and motor vehicles posted gains in output per employee hour in 1987. The steel industry registered a gain of 7.0 percent, well above the ~industry's long-term average. Output was up 9.5 percent in 1987, in contrast to a large decline in 1986. Demand for steel grew in construction, chemicals, oil and gas production, and heavy equipment manufacturing, while employee hours grew 2.4 percent in 1987. This was the fifth consecutive year of productivity growth in the steel industry. Motor vehicle manufacturing registered a productivity gain of 2.9 percent, slightly below the industry's long-term average. Output grew 0.8 percent, reversing the decline in 1986, while employee hours fell 2.0 percent in 1987. Although the production of passenger cars fell in 1987, this drop was more than compensated by output gains in trucks, buses, truck trailers, motor homes, and replacement parts. The gain was the seventh consecutive one in the industry.
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1 A full report, Productivity Measures for Selected Industries and Government Services, BLS Bulletin 2322, is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.
2 For a detailed report on productivity in these industries, see the following Monthly Labor Review articles: Mark Scott Sieling and Daniel Curtin, "Patterns of productivity change in men and boys' suits and coats," November 1988, pp. 25-31; Horst Brand and Kelly Bryant, "Productivity in agricultural chemicals," March 1989, pp. 21 -28; James D. York, "Variety stores experience shifting trend in productivity," October 1988, pp. 30-33; and a forthcoming article on productivity in the carburetors, pistons, and valves industry.
BLS modernizes industry labor productivity program.July 1995.
Productivity in industry and government, 1989.May 1991.
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