Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Economic News Release

Technical note

Technical Note

Labor Productivity:  Labor productivity describes the relationship between real output and the
labor hours involved in its production. These measures show the changes from period to period 
in the amount of goods and services produced per hour worked. Although the labor productivity 
measures relate output in an industry to hours worked of all persons in that industry, they do
not measure the specific contribution of labor to growth in output. Rather, they reflect the 
joint effects of many influences, including: changes in technology; capital investment; 
utilization of capacity, energy, and materials; the use of purchased services inputs, including
contract employment services; the organization of production; the characteristics and effort of
the workforce; and managerial skill.

Unit Labor Costs:  Unit labor costs represent the cost of labor required to produce one unit of
output. The unit labor cost indexes are computed by dividing an index of nominal industry labor
compensation by an index of real industry output. Unit labor costs also describe the 
relationship between compensation per hour and real output per hour (labor productivity). 
Increases in hourly compensation increase unit labor costs; increases in labor productivity 
offset compensation increases and reduce unit labor costs.

Output:  Real industry output is measured as an annual-weighted index of the changes in the 
various products (in real terms) provided for sale outside the industry. Real industry output
is usually derived by deflating nominal sales or values of production using BLS price indexes, 
but for some industries it is measured by physical quantities of output. 

Industry output measures are constructed primarily using data from the economic censuses and 
annual surveys of the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, together with 
information on price changes from BLS. Other data sources include: the Energy Information 
Administration, U.S. Department of Energy; the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. 
Department of Transportation; the U.S. Postal Service; the Postal Rate Commission; and the 
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Data from the Quarterly Service Survey from the Census
Bureau are used to construct preliminary output measures for 2022 for some industries. Data 
from both the Census Bureau's Quarterly Service Survey and Monthly Retail Trade Survey are 
used to construct preliminary output measures for 2022 for some industries.

Labor Hours:  Labor hours are measured as annual hours worked by all employed persons in an 
industry. This includes hours worked for pay as well as uncompensated work time. Data on 
industry employment and hours come primarily from the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES)
survey and Current Population Survey (CPS). CES data on the number of total and production 
worker jobs held by wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments are supplemented with 
CPS self-employed and unpaid family worker data to estimate industry employment. Hours worked
estimates are derived using CES and CPS employment, CES data on the average weekly hours paid
of production workers, CPS data on hours of nonproduction, self-employed, and unpaid family 
workers, and ratios of hours worked to hours paid based on data from both the CPS and the 
National Compensation Survey (NCS). For some industries, employment and hours data are 
supplemented or further disaggregated using data from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment 
and Wages (QCEW), the Census Bureau, or other sources. Additional sources of employment and 
hours data for certain service industries include the Association of American Railroads, the 
U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Postal Service. Hours worked are estimated 
separately for different types of workers and then are directly aggregated; no adjustments for
labor composition are made.

Labor Compensation:  Labor compensation, defined as payroll plus supplemental payments, is a 
measure of the cost to the employer of securing the services of labor. Payroll includes 
salaries, wages, commissions, dismissal pay, bonuses, vacation and sick leave pay, and 
compensation in kind. Supplemental payments include both legally required expenditures and 
payments for voluntary programs. The legally required portion consists primarily of federal 
old age and survivors' insurance, unemployment compensation, and workers' compensation. 
Payments for voluntary programs include all programs not specifically required by legislation,
such as the employer portion of private health insurance and pension plans. Industry 
compensation measures are constructed primarily using data from the economic censuses and 
annual surveys of the Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce. The estimates for 2022 are 
constructed using data from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).

Annual Percent Change:  The annual percent change is the compound annual growth rate in an 
index series over a period of more than one year. The change of an index series varies from
year to year. However, the annual percent change is the constant rate that can be applied to 
each year in a period, from the start to the end, that would give the same total result. It 
is calculated as (Ending Value/Starting Value)^(1/Number of Years)-1.
Last Modified Date: June 29, 2023