A Closer Look: Manufacturing and Mining Industries
Labor productivity for manufacturing and mining industries
On April 29, 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) updated measures for 90 detailed industries in Productivity and Costs by Industry: Manufacturing and Mining Industries - 2020. Chart 1 from the news release reveals, at the extremes, that some of these industries had double-digit percentage increases, or decreases, in labor productivity.Chart 1. Manufacturing and mining industries with the largest change in productivity, 2020 (NAICS 4-digit industries)
The productivity program also publishes Multifactor Productivity Trends in Manufacturing, for the manufacturing sector and 19 NAICS 3-digit industries, in the fall of the year after the data reference year; that release uses some different source data and methods than the detailed industry measures. Finally, Multifactor Productivity Trends for Detailed Industries, which includes data for 86 detailed manufacturing industries, comes out in the spring two years after the reference year.
In 2020, the manufacturing sector (NAICS 31-33) comprised 10.6 percent of nonfarm business sector employment (12.48 million workers) and 10.8 percent of U.S. value-added GDP. The mining sector employed approximately 584,700 workers, or 0.5 percent of all total nonfarm employees in 2020, while contributing 0.9 percent to value-added GDP.
On This Page:
Annual Data on Labor Productivity and Related Measures
Inquiries and Feedback
2020, month by month
The BLS productivity program publishes detailed industry productivity data on an annual basis, using source data and estimation methods as described in the Handbook of Methods. In addition, other data sources and methodologies may help explain how underlying economic phenomena contribute to the official measures. This webpage presents two examples of analysis associated with the release of data for the 2020 reference year. In each case, monthly data series reveal more detail about what was, in many ways, an extraordinary and challenging year for U.S. workers, employers, and households.
A tale of two recessions
Although more mining and manufacturing industries recorded productivity gains in 2020 than 2019, declines in both output and hours worked were widespread. Output fell in over 90 percent of detailed industries in 2020 and 87 percent had declines in hours worked. Seventy-two industries had concurrent declines in both output and hours worked in 2020. This was the greatest number of such industries since 2009.
For the manufacturing sector as a whole, productivity decreased 1.6 percent in 2020, reflecting a decrease in output of 8.1 percent and a decrease in hours of 6.6 percent. The decrease in output was the largest annual decline since a decline of 12.0 percent in 2009. The decline in hours was the largest annual decline since a decline of 12.9 percent in 2009.
On June 8, 2020, the National Bureau of Economic Research determined that February 2020 was the peak in U.S. economic activity and the end of the longest expansion on record that began in 2009. The U.S. officially entered a recession. We take a closer look at the manufacturing sector during the two most recent recessions by examining higher frequency monthly estimates during the 2008-2009 and 2019-2020 periods.
As shown in chart 2, the record annual decreases during the 2008-2009 period were due to nearly 18 consecutive months of declining output and hours starting in January 2008.
In comparison, as shown in chart 3, the 2019-2020 declines were due to historic monthly decreases in March and April of 2020.
Both recessions illustrate that productivity can be an indicator of cyclical changes in the economy. As illustrated in both charts, at the start of a recession, output growth usually falls before hours, leading to a decrease in productivity. At the end of a recession, output usually rises before hours, leading to an increase in productivity growth.
A drop in demand for petroleum products
The consumption of travel-related petroleum products dropped in April 2020. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that the total consumption of petroleum products fell by 23.3 percent, driven by a 25 percent decrease in the consumption of gasoline and a 50 percent decrease in consumption of jet fuel. Stay-at-home orders and a reduction in travel contributed to the decline in petroleum product consumption as transportation makes up about two-thirds of end-use sectors. Chart 4 demonstrates the important role of gasoline, particularly, in explaining the decreased consumption of refined petroleum products.
In 2019, the last year in which detailed product-level data are available, oil production made up about three-quarters of the value of production in the oil and gas extraction industry (NAICS 2111) while petroleum products contributed over 90 percent of the value of production in the petroleum and coal mining products manufacturing industry (NAICS 3241). Output trends in both industries are linked to their production of crude oil and petroleum products respectively (see chart 5).
In 2020, the output indexes of both the oil and gas extraction industry and the petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry fell. These indexes do not always move together. Although the industries are related by a production chain, crude oil producers and petroleum refineries react differently to global market conditions. However, the EIA's analysis suggests that the decline in both industries' output in 2020 was caused by falling global demand for petroleum products.
The EIA reported that refiners responded to the declines in transportation fuel use by decreasing refinery runs, or the consumption of gross inputs. From March to April, refinery runs fell from 15.8 to 13.3 millions of barrels per day, the lowest level since September 2008. Following this decline in refinery runs, output in the petroleum and coal products manufacturing industry declined 15.5 percent in 2020; this was the industry's largest annual rate decline as far back as BLS has data.
As refineries produced less of petroleum products and global crude oil inventories peaked to all-time highs, well operators began to produce less crude oil. Crude oil production dropped from 12.7 million barrels per day in March to 10 million barrels per day in May. Output in the oil and gas extraction industry declined 5.6 percent in 2020 – also the largest one-year decrease in industry output over the 1987-2020 BLS reference period.
 Monthly estimates of manufacturing sector output are based on data on industrial production from the Federal Reserve Board. Measures of hours worked are constructed using data on all employee hours from the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) Survey, adjusted with ratios of hours worked to hours paid based on data from the BLS National Compensation Survey (NCS).
 Source: This Week in Petroleum April 29, 2020 - Record low demand and low crack spreads drive refinery run declines. Also, see the EIA source data table Petroleum & other liquids - weekly supply estimates.
 Sources: This Week in Petroleum March 3, 2020 - U.S. crude oil production in 2020 fell for first time since 2016 and This Week in Petroleum January 6, 2021 - Crude oil prices in 2020 were the lowest in more than 15 years.
 Source: This Week in Petroleum March 3, 2020.
 Source: This Week in Petroleum January 6, 2021.
Last Modified Date: June 15, 2021