January 15, 2002
During the second half of the 1990s, labor productivity growth accelerated sharply in the retail trade industry.
During the 1995-99 period, productivity—as measured by output per hour—increased at an annual average rate of 3.1 percent, or about twice the increase seen during the 1990-95 period. This pattern of acceleration was also evident, to various degrees, in each of the major industry groups within retail trade, with the exception of apparel stores. (The eight major industry groups comprising retail trade are shown in the chart, along with total retail trade.)
In both halves of the 1990s, home furniture, furnishings, and equipment stores was the major industry group in retail trade with the largest gains in productivity. Output per hour in this group increased by 6.0 percent per year between 1990 and 1995 and by 7.6 percent per year between 1995 and 1999. This group includes the radio, television, computer, and music stores industry, in which productivity rose at an annual rate of 10.5 percent in 1990-95 and 12.1 percent in 1995-99.
This information is from the Industry Productivity Program. Data are subject to revision. Find out more in "Labor productivity in the retail trade industry, 1987-99," by Mark Sieling, Brian Friedman, and Mark Dumas, Monthly Labor Review, December 2001.