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May 1997, Vol. 120, No. 5
John G. Olsen
Declining demand for new housing, low capital expenditures per employee, and a largely inexperienced work force have contributed to only modest long-term productivity gains in the mobile homes industry.1 A new measure of industry productivity from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that output per hour increased at an average annual rate of 0.6 percent between 1977 and 1994.
To put this figure in perspective, a comparison was made between the mobile homes industry and other manufacturing industries for which the Bureau measures productivity. The years 1979 and 1990 were chosen for comparison because these were peak years in the business cycle, as measured by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Between 1979 and 1990, productivity in the mobile homes industry rose 0.4 percent annually. More than 80 percent of the manufacturing industries examined showed higher rates of increase in productivity during that same period.2
The productivity indexes presented in this article 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 mobile homes industry are based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of the Census.
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1The mobile homes industry is designated by the Office of Management and Budget as SIC 2451 in the 1987 edition of the Standard Industrial Classification Manual. The industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing mobile homes and nonresidential mobile buildings, such as offices, banks, and classrooms. These units are generally more than 35 feet long and at least 8 feet wide, do not have facilities for storage of water or waste, and are equipped with wheels. The industry also is referred to in trade publications as the manufactured-housing industry.
The average annual rates of change presented in this article are computed using the compound rate formula. These rates reflect the average rate of growth between beginning and ending years. For comparisons of periods, peak years in the business cycle were chosen as the beginning and ending years.
Extensions of the bls productivity indexes will appear annually in the bls bulletin, Productivity Measures for Selected Industries. A technical note describing the methods used to develop the indexes is available from the Office of Productivity and Technology, Division of Industry Productivity Studies.
2See Monthly Labor Review, December 1996, table 41, "Annual indexes of output per hour for selected industries," pp. 12829.
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