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Productivity Research and Program Development
Bureau of Labor Statistics > Productivity Research and Program Development Group > About productivity research > Questions & Answers

DPRPD Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are "multifactor productivity" and "total factor productivity" the same?

Yes. BLS uses the general term "multifactor productivity" instead of “total factor productivity” to avoid implying that there is one complete and correct list of factors which account for productivity growth.

Multifactor productivity (MFP) refers to productivity statistics that take into account more than one kind of input to production. A full estimate of MFP typically includes measures of the growth of each input, and each factor's influence on output, together with an estimate of residual productivity growth not accounted for by the factor inputs.

BLS publishes several kinds of estimates of multifactor productivity. They incorporate measures of productive capital and labor inputs. Some include other inputs: energy, materials, purchased business services, or the education and experience composition of the workforce.

Total factor productivity (TFP) refers to the same concept as MFP but the word "total" implies that the model includes all relevant inputs. However, estimates of MFP generally do not include measures of economies of scale, organizational capital, labor effort, management quality, or public infrastructure such as highways and computer networks. Furthermore, different studies can measure an input in different ways. For example, some studies measure labor input using a count of hours worked, while other approaches weight observed hours through terms reflecting the education or experience of the work force. No approach achieves a “total” measurement.

Models of multifactor productivity are an active area of research, and can include different input factors or measure each input differently. Data users should be aware that there is no single generally applicable model of MFP, and that the measures presented will vary depending on which inputs are considered and how each is measured. Some researchers refer to the residual alone as the estimate of MFP, leaving aside the measured changes in the inputs and their effect on output. Some researchers treat the MFP residual as an indirect estimate of aggregate technological change.

How can I obtain copies of the research papers?

Working papers are available on the BLS Working Papers page. Monthly Labor Review articles are available on the MLR website. Many of the published papers are available to subscribers at JSTOR. Unpublished papers can be obtained by contacting the authors.

Are there opportunities to be a full-time or visiting researcher at BLS?

When hiring, the Division of Productivity Research and Program Development will advertise job opportunities in the Job Openings for Economists. The division is not hiring this year.


Last Modified Date: July 20, 2018