Unit labor costs in the fourth quarter of 2009
March 08, 2010
Unit labor costs in nonfarm businesses decreased 4.7 percent from the same quarter a year ago, the largest four-quarter decline since the series began in 1948.
From the previous quarter, at an annual rate, unit labor costs in nonfarm businesses fell 5.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, the result of productivity increasing faster than hourly compensation.
The annual average index of unit labor costs declined 1.7 percent from 2008 to 2009, the largest decline in that series.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines unit labor costs as the ratio of hourly compensation to labor productivity; increases in hourly compensation tend to increase unit labor costs and increases in output per hour tend to reduce them.
These data, from the Productivity and Costs program, are seasonally adjusted and are subject to revision. To learn more about productivity, output, hours and related measures, see "Productivity and Costs: Fourth Quarter and Annual Averages 2009, Revised" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL-10-0255.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Unit labor costs in the fourth quarter of 2009 on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2010/ted_20100308.htm (visited May 25, 2016).
Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics
Employment and Wages in Healthcare Occupations
Healthcare occupations are a significant percentage of U.S. employment. Some of the largest and highest paying occupations are in healthcare. This Spotlight examines employment and wages for healthcare occupations.
Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.
- A look at pay at the top, the bottom, and in between
The Spotlight examines how earnings and wages have changed over time and how they differ within a geographic area, industry, or occupation.