Increasing skill levels now account for over a quarter of labor productivity growth

September 20, 1999

More than one-fourth of the growth in labor productivity in the 1990s has been due to rises in the skill levels of workers. This represents a dramatic change from the 1970s, when skill change contributed almost nothing to labor productivity growth.

Labor productivity and the contribution of increased skill to labor productivity, private business, average annual growth rates, 1968-97
[Chart data—TXT]

Labor productivity in the private business sector grew by 1.30 percent per year on average between 1990 and 1997, and increasing skill levels accounted for 0.41 percentage point of the growth. Between 1973 and 1979, the growth rate of labor productivity was about the same as in the 1990s—1.27 percent per year—but increases in skills only explained 0.03 percentage point of this growth.

For this analysis, skills are measured by the education and work experience of individuals. Labor productivity is measured by output per hour worked.

These data are a product of the BLS Multifactor Productivityprogram. Find out more in chapter 2 of Report on the American Workforce 1999 (PDF 1,037K).


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Increasing skill levels now account for over a quarter of labor productivity growth on the Internet at (visited September 25, 2016).


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