Yes, the terms are interchangeable. They describe productivity models and measures with more than one kind of input to production, that is, not only labor, and a measure of the growth in output which was not accounted for by net growth in the factor inputs.
BLS uses the general term “total factor productivity,” and publishes several kinds of estimates. They incorporate measures of productive capital, and some include other inputs: energy, materials, purchased business services, or the education and experience composition of the workforce.
A full estimate of such a model 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. "Total factor productivity" by itself often refers not to the total contribution of the factors, but to the residual growth after the factors are taken into account.
That residual generally will include the effect of public infrastructure such as highways and computer networks, the effects of changes in capacity utilization, economies of scale, labor effort, or management quality. Some studies use the residual as an indirect estimate of aggregate technological change, although the residual includes many otherwise unmeasured factors listed above.
Different studies measure the inputs in different ways. For example, some studies measure labor input using a count of hours worked, while others weigh the hours worked by the education or experience of the work force. Measures of inputs, outputs, and productivity are active areas of research.
In the context of productivity statistics, tangible capital refers to structures, equipment, and land owned by organizations that produce output. Intangible capital includes software, databases, brand name recognition, designs, artistic originals, copyrights, patents, trademarks, business processes, and other technologies or institutions which are owned or controlled by productive organizations and are useful inputs to production of output. There is ongoing research as to how to define intangible capital in different contexts and use it in measuring productivity. DPRPD researchers are investigating the effects of software infrastructure and of advertising on the output of firms and industries.
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. Some unpublished papers can be obtained from individual researcher pages linked from the page above this one or by contacting the authors.
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: June 16, 2021