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Nonfarm business sector labor productivity grew 1.9 percent in 2019

March 12, 2020

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity grew 1.9 percent in 2019, as output increased 2.7 percent and hours worked increased 0.8 percent. The increase in nonfarm business labor productivity is the largest annual increase since 2010, when productivity increased 3.4 percent.

Percent change in labor productivity and related measures, annual averages, 1948–2019
Year Labor productivity (output per hour) Output Hours worked Hourly compensation Unit labor costs Real hourly compensation

1948

2.5% 4.2% 1.6% 8.7% 6.0% 0.6%

1949

3.2 -0.8 -3.9 2.9 -0.3 4.2

1950

6.7 10.1 3.2 5.9 -0.7 4.6

1951

2.6 7.4 4.7 8.6 5.9 0.7

1952

1.9 3.0 1.1 5.5 3.5 3.5

1953

2.4 5.0 2.5 5.6 3.0 4.8

1954

2.0 -1.5 -3.4 3.2 1.2 2.4

1955

4.3 8.5 4.0 3.7 -0.6 4.0

1956

-0.6 1.9 2.5 6.1 6.7 4.5

1957

2.6 2.0 -0.6 5.8 3.2 2.4

1958

2.3 -2.0 -4.2 4.0 1.6 1.1

1959

3.5 8.3 4.6 3.9 0.3 3.1

1960

1.2 1.8 0.6 4.3 3.1 2.6

1961

3.3 2.2 -1.1 3.3 0.1 2.3

1962

4.5 6.8 2.2 4.0 -0.5 3.0

1963

3.4 4.6 1.1 3.4 0.0 2.1

1964

2.8 6.7 3.7 3.0 0.2 1.7

1965

3.2 7.2 3.9 3.3 0.1 1.7

1966

3.6 7.2 3.5 5.9 2.2 3.0

1967

1.9 1.9 0.0 5.8 3.9 2.7

1968

3.5 5.3 1.8 7.5 3.9 3.2

1969

0.2 3.1 2.9 6.8 6.6 1.3

1970

1.5 -0.1 -1.6 7.0 5.4 1.2

1971

3.9 3.7 -0.2 6.1 2.1 1.7

1972

3.5 6.7 3.1 6.5 2.9 3.2

1973

3.1 7.3 4.1 7.6 4.4 1.3

1974

-1.6 -1.5 0.1 9.5 11.3 -1.4

1975

2.8 -1.6 -4.3 10.5 7.6 1.3

1976

3.5 7.2 3.6 7.8 4.1 1.9

1977

1.7 5.7 3.9 8.2 6.4 1.6

1978

1.4 6.7 5.2 8.6 7.1 1.5

1979

-0.2 3.4 3.6 9.5 9.8 0.0

1980

0.0 -0.9 -0.8 10.8 10.8 -0.4

1981

1.5 2.3 0.8 9.6 8.0 0.2

1982

-0.8 -3.1 -2.3 7.4 8.2 1.2

1983

4.1 6.2 2.0 4.5 0.4 0.2

1984

2.2 8.5 6.1 4.3 2.0 0.1

1985

1.8 4.4 2.6 4.9 3.1 1.4

1986

3.0 3.8 0.8 5.8 2.7 4.0

1987

0.6 3.6 3.0 3.8 3.2 0.3

1988

1.6 4.6 2.9 5.1 3.4 1.5

1989

0.9 3.7 2.7 2.9 2.0 -1.4

1990

1.7 1.5 -0.2 6.0 4.2 1.0

1991

1.6 -0.6 -2.2 4.8 3.1 1.1

1992

4.5 4.1 -0.4 6.2 1.7 3.6

1993

0.1 3.1 3.0 1.2 1.1 -1.3

1994

0.7 4.6 3.9 1.0 0.3 -1.1

1995

1.1 3.4 2.3 2.5 1.4 0.1

1996

2.1 4.5 2.3 3.5 1.3 0.8

1997

1.9 5.2 3.2 3.9 1.9 1.7

1998

3.1 5.3 2.2 5.8 2.6 4.4

1999

3.8 5.7 1.8 4.7 0.8 2.5

2000

3.3 4.7 1.4 7.0 3.6 3.5

2001

2.7 0.8 -1.9 4.4 1.6 1.5

2002

4.3 1.7 -2.5 2.3 -1.9 0.7

2003

3.8 3.2 -0.6 3.7 -0.1 1.4

2004

2.9 4.2 1.3 4.6 1.6 1.8

2005

2.2 3.9 1.7 3.7 1.4 0.3

2006

1.1 3.4 2.3 3.8 2.7 0.6

2007

1.7 2.4 0.7 4.3 2.6 1.5

2008

1.1 -1.0 -2.1 2.9 1.7 -0.9

2009

3.6 -3.9 -7.2 0.9 -2.5 1.3

2010

3.4 3.3 -0.1 1.9 -1.5 0.2

2011

0.0 2.0 2.0 2.2 2.2 -0.9

2012

0.9 3.1 2.3 2.7 1.8 0.5

2013

0.5 2.2 1.7 1.3 0.8 -0.2

2014

0.9 3.2 2.3 2.8 1.9 1.1

2015

1.3 3.5 2.1 3.1 1.7 2.9

2016

0.3 1.7 1.5 1.1 0.8 -0.2

2017

1.3 2.9 1.5 3.5 2.1 1.3

2018

1.4 3.5 2.0 3.2 1.8 0.8

2019

1.9 2.7 0.8 3.6 1.7 1.8

The 0.8-percent increase in hours worked is the smallest percentage increase in the annual average since 2010 (−0.1 percent). The average annual rate of nonfarm business sector productivity growth from 2007 to 2019, corresponding to the current business cycle, is 1.4 percent. This was below the average annual rate of growth of 2.1 percent from 1947 to 2019.

Unit labor costs in the nonfarm business sector increased 1.7 percent in 2019, reflecting increases of 3.6 percent in hourly compensation and 1.9 percent in productivity. Real hourly compensation, which takes into account changes in consumer prices, increased 1.8 percent in 2019.

These data are from the Labor Productivity and Costs program. To learn more, see Productivity and Costs — Fourth Quarter and Annual Averages 2019, Revised. Also see Charts related to the latest "Productivity and Costs" news release. Labor productivity, or output per hour, is calculated by dividing an index of real output by an index of hours worked by all people, including employees, proprietors, and unpaid family workers. Unit labor costs are the ratio of hourly compensation to labor productivity. Increases in hourly compensation tend to increase unit labor costs, and increases in output per hour tend to reduce them. All quarterly percent changes in this release are seasonally adjusted annual rates.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Nonfarm business sector labor productivity grew 1.9 percent in 2019 on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2020/nonfarm-business-sector-labor-productivity-grew-1-point-9-percent-in-2019.htm (visited August 04, 2020).

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