Last Modified Date: June 04, 2020
Hours worked data for the labor productivity and cost measures include hours worked for all persons
working in the sector—wage 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.
Detailed hours data are presented in the table “Hours Worked in Total U.S. Economy and Subsectors”
on the BLS website (https://www.bls.gov/lpc/special_requests/us_total_hrs_emp.xlsx).
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
worked. Business output accounted for about 78 percent of the value of GDP in 2019. Nonfarm
business, which excludes farming, accounted for about 77 percent of GDP in 2019.
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 BLS.
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 50 percent of the value of GDP in 2019.
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.
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 2012=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, www.bls.gov/data/home.htm, or by contacting the BLS Division of Major Sector
Productivity (Telephone 202-691-5606 or email firstname.lastname@example.org).
For a more detailed explanation of methodology see "Technical Information About the Major Sector
Productivity and Costs Methods" at www.bls.gov/lpc/lpcmethods.pdf.
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.