July 10, 2009
Though productivity growth in the nonfarm business sector has trended upwards over the last 60 years, a slowdown in productivity growth in nonfarm businesses took place from the early 1970s through 1995.
After 1995 productivity growth shifted upwards, until recently. This productivity boost is often attributed to capital-intensive investments and improvements in technology.
The nonfarm business sector accounts for three-fourths of output and employment in the total U.S. economy.
These data are from the BLS Productivity and Costs program. More charts depicting measures of productivity, which describe the relationship between real output and the labor time involved in its production, may be found in "Productivity trends in business cycles: a visual essay" (HTML) (PDF) by Michael Chernousov, Susan E. Fleck, and John Glaser in the Monthly Labor Review, June 2009 issue.