Technical notes


Labor Hours 

Hours data for the labor productivity and cost measures include hours worked 
for all persons working in the sectorówage and salary workers, the self-
employed and unpaid family workers. The primary source of hours and employment 
data is the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, which provides 
monthly survey data on the number of jobs held by wage and salary workers in 
nonfarm establishments, counting a person who is employed by two or more 
establishments at each place of employment. The CES also provides average 
weekly paid hours of production and nonsupervisory workers in these 
establishments. Weekly paid hours are adjusted to hours worked using data from 
the National Compensation Survey (NCS) for 1996 forward and data from the BLS 
Hours at Work survey, conducted for this purpose, prior to 1990. Between 1990 
and 1995, weekly paid hours are adjusted to hours at work using a combination 
of NCS and Hours at Work survey data. The Office of Productivity and 
Technology estimates average weekly hours at work for nonproduction and 
supervisory workers using information from the Current Population Survey 
(CPS), the CES, and the NCS.

Data from the CPS are used to estimate hours worked for farm labor, nonfarm 
proprietors, and nonfarm unpaid family workers. Using CPS information on 
employment and hours worked at primary jobs and all other jobs, separately, 
the BLS productivity measures assign all hours worked to the appropriate 
industrial sector. Hours for government enterprises are derived from the CPS, 
the CES, and the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) prepared by the 
Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the Department of Commerce.


Business sector output is a chain-type, current-weighted index constructed 
after excluding from gross domestic product (GDP) the following outputs: 
general government, nonprofit institutions, and private households (including 
owner-occupied housing). Corresponding exclusions also are made in labor 
hours. Business output accounted for about 76 percent of the value of GDP in 
2017. Nonfarm business, which excludes farming, also accounted for about 75 
percent of GDP in 2017.

Annual indexes for manufacturing and its durable and nondurable goods 
components are constructed by deflating current-dollar industry value of 
production data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census with deflators from the 
BLS. These deflators are based on data from the BLS Producer Price Index 
program and other sources. The industry shipments are aggregated using annual  
weights, and intrasector transactions are removed. Quarterly manufacturing  
output measures are based on the indexes of industrial production prepared  
monthly by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, adjusted to  
be consistent with annual indexes of manufacturing sector output prepared by  

Nonfinancial corporate output is a chain-type, current-weighted index 
calculated on the basis of the costs incurred and the incomes earned from 
production.  The output measure excludes the following outputs from GDP: 
general government; nonprofit institutions; private households; unincorporated 
business; and those corporations classified as offices of bank holding 
companies, offices of other holding companies, or offices in the finance and 
insurance sector. Nonfinancial corporations accounted for about 49 percent of 
the value of GDP in 2017. 
Labor Productivity

The measure describes the relationship between real output and the labor time 
involved in its production. Measures of labor productivity growth show the 
changes from period to period in the amount of goods and services produced per 
hour worked. They reflect the joint effects of many influences, including 
changes in technology; capital investment; level of output; utilization of 
capacity, energy, and materials; the organization of production; managerial 
skill; and the characteristics and effort of the work force.

Labor Compensation

The measure includes accrued wages and salaries, supplements, employer 
contributions to employee benefit plans, and taxes. Estimates of labor 
compensation by major sector, required for measures of hourly compensation and 
unit labor costs, are based primarily on employee compensation data from the 
NIPA, prepared by the BEA. The compensation of employees in general 
government, nonprofit institutions and private households are subtracted from 
compensation of employees in domestic industries to derive employee 
compensation for the business sector. The labor compensation of proprietors 
cannot be explicitly identified and must be estimated. This is done by 
assuming that proprietors have the same hourly compensation as employees in 
the same sector. The quarterly labor productivity and cost measures do not 
contain estimates of compensation for unpaid family workers.  
Unit Labor Costs

These measures describe the relationship between compensation per hour and 
labor productivity, or real output per hour, and can be used as an indicator 
of inflationary pressure on producers. Increases in hourly compensation 
increase unit labor costs; labor productivity increases offset compensation 
increases and lower unit labor costs. 

Presentation of the data

The quarterly data in this release are presented in three ways: as percent 
changes from the previous quarter presented at a compound annual rate, as 
percent changes from the corresponding quarter of the previous year, and as 
index number series where 2009=100. Annual data are presented both as index 
number series and percent changes from the previous year.  

The index numbers and rates of change reported in the productivity and costs 
news release are rounded to one decimal place. All percent changes in this 
release and on the BLS web site are calculated using index numbers to three 
decimal places. A complete historical series of these index numbers are 
available at the BLS web site,, or by contacting the 
BLS Division of Major Sector Productivity (Telephone 202-691-5606 or email

For a more detailed explanation of methodology see "Technical Information 
About the Major Sector Productivity and Costs Methods" at
Information in this release will be made available to sensory-impaired 
individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; Federal Relay Service 
number: 1-800-877-8339.

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Last Modified Date: May 03, 2018