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October 1992, Vol. 115, No. 10
Productivity in the fish and seafoods industry, 1972-90
Mark W. Dumas
Fish and seafood products are enjoying a surge of popularity with consumers in the marketplace. However, the benefits of this rise have yet to be reflected in the long-term productivity growth rates of the prepared fresh or frozen fish and seafoods industry.1 Productivity, as measured by output per hour, declined at an average annual rate of 0.9 percent per year during the 1972-90 period. Limited technological diffusion and difficulties associated with processing perishable, highly variable, and seasonal products have contributed to productivity declines in this industry.
The productivity indexes represent the change over time in the ratio of the weighted output of a specified composite of products to the employee hours expended on that output. The output and employee hour series that underlie the productivity measures for the prepared fresh or frozen fish and seafoods industry are based on data from the Bureau of the Census. A more complete description of the methodology used to construct these measures is contained in the appendix at the end of this article.
Trends in productivity
The industry's annual average 0.9-percent decline in productivity reflects a 2.3-percent rise in output and a 3.2-percent increase in employee hours. (See table 1.) Although the long-term productivity trend was negative, there was significant year-to-year variation. During the 1972-90 period, annual increases in productivity occurred in 8 years ranging from 0.2 percent to 13.5 percent. Productivity declines were registered in the remaining years, with the single largest decline occurring in 1979, when productivity fell 15.2 percent.
Many of the annual movements in productivity were associated with changes in output. In 7 of the 11 years in which output advanced, there were increases in productivity. Similarly, productivity declined in 6 of the 7 years that output fell. Additional factors that may have adversely affected productivity include: the small and fragmented nature of industry firms and the continued dependence on labor intensive techniques in some areas of production attributable to the complex handling requirements of some products.
Significant advances in productivity occurred, however, despite the long-term decline. Between 1986 and 1988, productivity grew at a rate of 3.9 percent per year, following large increases in demand. In an effort to capitalize on these increases, the industry attempted to boost sales further by responding to issues that might hamper future growth and by identifying opportunities for new growth. With the latest data indicating a continued slowdown in consumption and declines in productivity, these issues may be more relevant than ever.
This excerpt is from an article published in the October 1992 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 The prepared fresh or frozen fish and seafoods industry is designated as a SIC 2092 in the Standard Industrial Classification Manual, 1987.
The average annual rates of change presented in the text are based on compound rates of change. Extensions of the indexes will appear annually in the bureau of labor Statistics Bulletin, Productivity for Selected Industries and Government Services. A technical note describing the methods used to develop the indexes is available from the Office of Productivity and Technology, Division of Industry Productivity and Technology Studies.
Productivity in the wood containers industries, 1977-89. October 1992.
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