Variation in unit labor costs by industry
January 04, 2000
Changes in unit labor costs varied markedly in the transportation, communications, and utilities sector from 1987 to 1997. The average annual percent change in unit labor costs in the nine measured industries ranged from –3.0 percent in railroad transportation to 5.8 percent in cable and other pay TV services.
Unit labor costs in overall nonfarm business increased at a rate of 2.0 percent per year from 1987-97. Besides railroad transportation, four other industries in the transportation, communications, and utilities sector with changes in costs below the overall average were telephone communications (-0.8 percent), electric utilities (0.6 percent), air transportation (0.9 percent), and trucking, except local (1.8 percent).
In addition to cable TV, three measured industries in the transportation, communications, and utilities sector had cost increases above the overall nonfarm average: gas utilities (2.7 percent), U.S. Postal Service (3.3 percent), and radio and TV broadcasting (3.9 percent).
These data are a product of the BLS Industry Productivityprogram. Data are subject to revision. Unit labor costs—the cost of the labor input required to produce one unit of output—are computed by dividing total compensation by real output. For more information see BLS Report 939, "Unit Labor Costs for Selected Industries, 1987-97," (PDF 44K). Note that the figure for railroad transportation pertains to 1987-96.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Variation in unit labor costs by industry on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2000/jan/wk1/art02.htm (visited January 17, 2021).
Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics
- Occupational Employment and Wages in Metro and Nonmetro Areas
Examines similarities and differences in employment and wages between metro and nonmetro areas.
- Gulf War Era Veterans in the Labor Force
Examines the demographic, employment, and unemployment characteristics of civilians who served in the U.S. military during Gulf War era.
- Using BLS Data to Match People with Disabilities with Jobs Presents data that can help increase access and opportunity for people with disabilities in the nation’s labor market.
- How Women and Aging Affect Trends in Labor Force Growth Examines how women’s labor force participation and the aging of the U.S. population affect trends in labor force growth.