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October 1992, Vol. 115, No. 10
Productivity in the wood containers industries, 1977-89
Virtually invisible to most consumers, products of the wood container industry are used to move products ranging from diapers to machine tools to groceries. Productivity gains spurred by widespread automation arrived to these suppliers of domestic industry as recently as the 1970's and 1980's. Productivity in the wood containers industry, as measured by output per employee hour, grew at an average annual rate of 2.2 percent during the 1977-89 period.1 Wood container output increased at a rate of 2.8 percent. Employee hours, by comparison, increased at a rate of only 0.6 percent.
For the wood containers industry, productivity indexes represent the change in the ratio of the weighted output of specified products to the employee hours expended to produce that output. The output and employee hour series that underlie the industry productivity measure are based on data from the Bureau of the Census. The output index is deflated by matching producer price indexes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For a more complete description of the methodology, see the appendix at the end of this article.
Productivity and output
Industry productivity grew most rapidly - 3.0 percent - during the 1977-84 subperiod (1984 was a turning point for long-term productivity gains in the wood container industry). Output increased at a rate of 2.8 percent, while hours declined at a rate of 0.3 percent. Productivity growth was not continuous during this subperiod, increasing in four years but decreasing in the other three. It surged in 1980 by 17.5 percent and in 1982 by 17.6 percent, posting by far the biggest increases of the subperiod. Output increased 4.7 percent in 1980 and 5.8 percent in 1982.
The largest output increase during the 1977 to 1984 subperiod was 10.8 percent in 1984, the year of greatest growth within the extended economic expansion of the 1980's. Employee hours also increased considerably, however, rising by 7.9 percent, holding productivity gains to 2.7 percent that year.
From 1984 to 1989, productivity growth slowed to a 0.9-percent annual rate. Output expanded at a rate of 2.9 percent, but hours rose at a rate of 1.9 percent. Productivity fell 3.2 percent in 1985 and 1.2 percent in 1986, but edged up 0.2 percent in 1987; it rose 3.6 percent in 1988 and peaked at 5.6 percent in 1989. Output rose 8.8 percent in 1988 and 8.0 percent in 1989, when the economic expansion was approaching its peak. Hours rose by 5.0 and 2.3 percent in those years.
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 wood containers industry includes SIC 2441, nailed and locked wood boxes and shook for nailed and lock corner boxes; SIC 2448, wood or wood and metal combination pallets and skids; and 2449, wood containers, not elsewhere classified, and other veneer and plywood containers. All average annual rates of change are based on the compound interest method of computation. Extension of the indexes will appear in the annual BLS bulletin, Productivity Measures for Selected Industries.
Productivity in the nuts and bolts industry, 1958-90. October 1992.
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