Related BLS programs | Related articles
September 1998, Vol. 121, No. 9
John Duke and Lisa Usher
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has expanded its database of labor productivity series and, in the process, has increased its industry coverage within most sectors of the economy. The new data provide complete coverage in manufacturing and retail trade for all three- and four-digit industries.1 Coverage also has increased substantially in the mining and service industries.
BLS has produced measures of labor productivity at the industry level for many years. In 1940, Congress authorized that productivity studies be conducted on a continuing basis. From 1940 to 1997, the number of industries for which series were published increased steadily to 180.2 As recently as 1997, many industries were still not covered by the program, due to lack of adequate basic data. However, major advances in data collection over the last 10 to 15 years have increased the amount of data available to measure labor productivity for industries. This provided an impetus for the major expansion.
One of the most important advances is the large increase in the number of Producer Price Indexes (PPIs) developed by the BLS Industrial Prices and Price Indexes program.3 This development greatly enhanced the industry productivity program because it made the following BLS goals more feasible:
With these goals, BLS established an intensive project to increase significantly the coverage of its industry labor productivity series.
Coverage of the four-digit industry productivity series has expanded to include all 457 manufacturing industries, as well as 92 nonmanufacturing industries. At the three-digit level, 140 manufacturing and 62 nonmanufacturing industries are covered. Historical data on the new industry series are available from 1987 through 1996. These data were first introduced in a press release (USDL 98-310) on July 23, 1998. Data presented here include updates and revisions that supersede those series.
This article provides an overview of the data in the new database and examines some highlights of the 198796 productivity trends. Appendix A explains the methodology and data employed to construct the series.
This excerpt is from an article published in the September 1998 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.
Read abstract Download full text in PDF (300K)
1 Employment figures are based primarily on data from the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) program and the Current Population Survey (CPS).
2 Output per employee hour is measured in all cases except: (1) output per employee is used for SIC 4213 and SIC 4512,13,22 (PTS); and (2) output per hour of all persons is used for all trade and services industries except SIC 5311 and SIC 5511. "All persons" include self-employed as well as employees.
3 Employee hours in SIC 4311 are based on the number of full-time-equivalent employee years, as reported in the U.S. Postal Service budget. Full-time-equivalent employee years are computed by dividing total hours of full-time, part-time, and intermittent workers by the number of hours in a standard work year. The output and hours for SIC 4311 reflect the Federal fiscal year.
Related BLS programs
Within Monthly Labor Review Online:
Welcome | Current Issue | Index | Subscribe | Archives
Exit Monthly Labor Review Online:
BLS Home | Publications & Research Papers