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Economic News Release
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Productivity and Costs by Industry: Selected Service-Providing Industries, 2019

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, May 28, 2020                                       USDL-20-1103

Technical information:     (202) 691-5606  •  • 
Media contact:             (202) 691-5902  •

                                 PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS BY INDUSTRY
                            SELECTED SERVICE-PROVIDING INDUSTRIES -- 2019

Labor productivity rose in 14 of 29 selected service-providing industries in 2019, the U.S. 
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This was one-third fewer industries compared to 2018 
when labor productivity increased in 21 of 29 industries. Output increased in 17 industries in 
2019 while hours worked increased in 18 industries.  

Trends in Labor Productivity in 2019

    •  Labor productivity increased in 14 of 29 industries in 2019. Among those with increasing 
       productivity, output grew in 9 industries and hours worked grew in 5 industries.
    •  Productivity gains of at least 6.0 percent occurred in 2 industries: wireless 
       telecommunications carriers (13.2 percent) and gambling industries (8.8 percent). In both 
       industries, output increases coincided with declines in hours worked.
    •  Hours worked grew in 18 of the 29 industries.
    •  Hours worked increased in 13 out of the 15 industries which recorded declines in 
       productivity. Of these, the largest gains in hours worked were in couriers and messengers 
       (13.4 percent) and truck, utility trailer, and RV rental and leasing (8.1 percent); all 
       other industries had gains of 4.0 percent or less. 

Unit labor costs declined in 5 industries in 2019. Each of the industries with a decline in 
unit labor costs also recorded an increase in productivity. Increases in labor productivity 
counter the impact of rising hourly compensation on unit labor costs facing employers.

Trends in Unit Labor Costs in 2019

    •  The largest declines in unit labor costs were in periodical publishers (-6.7 percent) and 
       gambling industries (-5.3 percent). Productivity grew in both industries while hourly 
       compensation fell in periodical publishers and rose in gambling industries.
    •  All unit labor cost declines occurred in industries where productivity rose. 
    •  Each of the industries where productivity fell also recorded an increase in unit labor 
    •  Hourly compensation rose in 27 of the 29 industries measured. 

Long Term Productivity Trends 

    •  Over the long term, productivity rose in 46 out of 58 service-providing industries. For the 
       majority of the industries studied, this period extends from 1987 to 2018. 
    •  Median long term productivity growth for all 58 industries was approximately 1.5 percent 
       per year.
    •  Output increased over the long term in 45 industries while hours worked increased in 38 
    •  Productivity increased in 41 of the 58 industries in the period from 2007 to 2018 that 
       began with a severe recession. During this period, only 38 industries had increases in 
       output and 25 experienced growth in hours worked. 

Additional Information

Time periods for data covered by this release precede, and are therefore not impacted by, 

The productivity and costs measures in this release incorporate data from the Census Bureau’s 
Service Annual Survey (November 2019) and Nonemployer Statistics (June 2019). Accordingly, the 
labor productivity and output series for all industries have been revised for 2018 and earlier 

Access the productivity data dashboard at for
    •  Additional industries and sectors
    •  Detailed data series: indexes of productivity and related measures; rates of change; and 
       levels of industry employment, hours worked, nominal value of production, and labor 
    •  Additional years and long-term data

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Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon 
request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339. 

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Last Modified Date: May 28, 2020