Productivity and Costs: Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, Food Services, and Drinking Places Industries News Release


For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, August 29, 2013	                                        USDL-13-1773

Technical Information:	(202) 691-5618  •  dipsweb@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/lpc 
Media Contact:	        (202) 691-5902  •  PressOffice@bls.gov


                   PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS BY INDUSTRY: WHOLESALE TRADE, RETAIL TRADE, AND 
                             FOOD SERVICES AND DRINKING PLACES INDUSTRIES, 2012

Labor productivity - defined as output per hour - rose in wholesale trade and in retail trade but fell 
slightly in food services and drinking places in 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. 
Productivity changes were as follows:

                             2.5 percent in wholesale trade,
                             2.4 percent in retail trade, and
			    -0.1 percent in food services and drinking places.

Productivity grew faster in wholesale trade and retail trade in 2012 than in 2011, as output increased at 
the same rate as in the previous year for wholesale trade and more rapidly for retail trade, while hours 
rose more slowly in both sectors than in 2011. In food services and drinking places, output 
and hours both rose more rapidly in 2012 than in 2011, but hours rose faster than output.

Unit labor costs, which reflect the total labor costs required to produce a unit of output, fell in retail 
trade but rose in wholesale trade and in food services and drinking places in 2012.

Productivity increased in 33 of the 50 detailed 4-digit NAICS industries in 2012. Output grew in 41 
industries and hours increased in 33 industries. Unit labor costs fell in 22 industries in 2012.

In wholesale trade, labor productivity rose 2.5 percent as output grew 3.9 percent and hours increased 
1.4 percent. Productivity grew 5.0 percent in durable goods wholesalers and 0.1 percent in nondurable 
goods wholesalers. Output per hour increased in 11 of the 19 wholesale trade industries, while output 
rose in 15 industries and hours grew in 14. Productivity increased most rapidly in motor vehicles and 
parts wholesalers, lumber and construction supplies wholesalers, and metals and minerals wholesalers, as 
output rose substantially in each. Unit labor costs declined in 7 industries.

In retail trade, labor productivity grew 2.4 percent as output increased 3.7 percent and hours rose 1.2 
percent. Output per hour increased in 19 of the 27 detailed retail trade industries in 2012, as output grew 
in 22 industries and hours rose in 16. The largest productivity increases were in home furnishing stores, 
where output rose considerably more than hours, in furniture stores, where output rose despite a decline 
in hours, and in book, periodical, and music stores, where output fell but hours declined even more. Unit 
labor costs fell in 14 industries.

In food services and drinking places, labor productivity declined 0.1 percent, as output grew 4.6 
percent and hours rose 4.7 percent. Productivity increased in three of the four detailed industries in this 
sector, as output grew in four industries and hours increased in three.  Productivity rose most in drinking 
places, alcoholic beverages, where output increased and hours fell. Productivity fell in limited-service 
eating places, where hours rose more rapidly than output. Unit labor costs rose in three of the industries.

Over the longer term (1987 to 2012), productivity in the wholesale trade, retail trade, and food services 
and drinking places sectors advanced more rapidly than in 2012. From 1987 to 2012, output per hour 
increased at an average annual rate of 3.0 percent in wholesale trade, 2.8 percent in retail trade, and 0.6 
percent in food services and drinking places. During this period unit labor costs rose in wholesale trade
and in food services and drinking places, but were unchanged in retail trade.

Productivity also increased in more trade and food services and drinking places industries over the longer 
term than in 2012, with output per hour rising in 47 of the 50 detailed industries from 1987 to 2012. Unit 
labor costs fell in 18 of the detailed industries over the period.
  
Year-to-year movements in industry productivity may be erratic, particularly in smaller industries. The 
annual measures based on sample data may differ from measures generated by a census of 
establishments in the industry. Annual changes in an industry’s output and use of labor may reflect 
cyclical changes in the economy as well as long-term trends. As a result, long-term productivity trends 
tend to be more reliable indicators of industry performance than year-to-year changes. 

Industry labor productivity measures are updated and revised as new data become available. The latest 
industry productivity data for trade and food services and drinking places industries and industries in 
other sectors are available on the BLS Labor Productivity and Costs website at www.bls.gov/lpc.

The measures in this news release incorporate preliminary data from the Census Bureau’s Annual 
Wholesale Trade Report (March 2013), Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey (May 2013), Annual Retail 
Trade Survey (April 2013), and the Annual Revision of the Monthly Retail and Food Services: Sales and 
Inventories (May 2013), as well as data from the Census Bureau’s Nonemployer Statistics (May 2013). 
The labor productivity and output series for all industries have been revised for 2011 and earlier years as 
a result. This news release also incorporates the annual benchmark revision of the BLS Current 
Employment Statistics (CES) survey published in February 2013. In addition, the unit labor cost 
measures incorporate preliminary data from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (June 
2013). All of the measures for 2012 in this release are preliminary and subject to revision. 

The industries included in this release are classified according to the 2007 NAICS. While the rates of 
change reported by BLS in this news release are rounded to one decimal place, all industry productivity 
percent changes are calculated using index numbers rounded to three decimal places.

More detailed data, including indexes, annual rates of change, and levels are available on the Labor 
Productivity and Costs website at http://www.bls.gov/lpc/. Additional information can be obtained by 
calling the Division of Industry Productivity Studies (202-691-5618) or by sending a request by e-mail 
to dipsweb@bls.gov. Information in this report will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals 
upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5618; TDD message referral phone number: 1-800-877-8339.

Customers can subscribe to the industry productivity program’s news releases on the BLS website at 
https://subscriptions.bls.gov/accounts/USDOLBLS/subscriber/new.


                                             Technical Note  

Labor Productivity: The industry labor productivity measures describe the relationship between 
industry output and the labor time involved in its production. They show the changes from period to 
period in the amount of goods and services produced per hour. Although the labor productivity measures 
relate output to hours of all persons in an industry, they do not measure the specific contribution of labor 
or any other factor of production. Rather, they reflect the joint effects of many influences, including 
changes in technology; capital investment; utilization of capacity, energy, and materials; the use of 
purchased services inputs, including contract employment services; the organization of production; 
managerial skill; and the characteristics and effort of the workforce.
      
Output: Industry output is measured as an annual-weighted index of the changes in the various products 
or services (in real terms) provided for sale outside the industry. Real industry output is derived by 
deflating nominal sales using BLS price indexes. Industry output measures are constructed primarily 
using data from the economic censuses and annual surveys of the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department 
of Commerce, together with information on price changes primarily from BLS. 
      
Labor Hours: The primary source of industry employment and hours data is the BLS Current 
Employment Statistics (CES) survey. The CES provides monthly data on the number of total and 
nonsupervisory worker jobs held by wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments, as well as data 
on the average weekly hours of nonsupervisory workers in those establishments. CES data are 
supplemented with data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) to estimate employment and hours 
of self-employed and unpaid family workers in each industry. Data from the CPS, together with the 
CES data, are also used to estimate the historical average weekly hours of supervisory workers for each 
industry. CES and CPS data are supplemented or further disaggregated for some industries using data 
from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), the Census Bureau, or other 
sources. Hours of all persons in an industry are treated as homogeneous and are directly aggregated. 

Unit Labor Costs: Unit labor costs represent the cost of labor required to produce one unit of output. 
The unit labor cost indexes are computed by dividing an index of industry labor compensation by an 
index of real industry output. Unit labor costs also describe the relationship between compensation per 
hour and real output per hour (labor productivity). Increases in hourly compensation increase unit labor 
costs; increases in labor productivity offset hourly compensation increases and lower unit labor costs. 

Labor Compensation: Labor compensation, defined as payroll plus supplemental payments, is a 
measure of the cost to the employer of securing the services of labor. Payroll includes salaries, wages, 
commissions, dismissal pay, bonuses, vacation and sick leave pay, and compensation in kind. 
Supplemental payments include legally required expenditures and payments for voluntary programs. The 
legally required portion consists primarily of Federal old age and survivors’ insurance, unemployment 
compensation, and workers’ compensation. Payments for voluntary programs include all programs not 
specifically required by legislation, such as the employer portion of private health insurance and pension 
plans.



Table 1. Percent change in output per hour, unit labor costs, and related data, 2011-2012
Industry NAICS code 2012
Employment
(thousands)
Percent change, 2011-2012
Output per hour Output Hours Labor compensation Unit labor costs

Wholesale Trade

Wholesale trade

42

5,815.7 2.5 3.9 1.4 4.5 0.6

Durable goods

423

2,908.6 5.0 6.2 1.1 4.4 -1.7

Motor vehicles and parts

4231

323.0 18.0 17.7 -0.3 6.2 -9.7

Furniture and furnishings

4232

98.7 -0.1 1.4 1.5 7.9 6.4

Lumber and construction supplies

4233

187.4 10.5 11.1 0.6 3.0 -7.3

Commercial equipment

4234

630.9 4.2 3.6 -0.5 2.6 -1.0

Metals and minerals

4235

122.5 9.9 11.2 1.2 4.6 -6.0

Electric goods

4236

324.2 -2.4 -0.3 2.1 4.3 4.6

Hardware and plumbing

4237

228.3 4.3 4.8 0.4 3.9 -0.9

Machinery and supplies

4238

657.1 1.4 4.6 3.1 7.1 2.4

Miscellaneous durable goods

4239

336.5 -9.8 -8.5 1.4 2.8 12.4

Nondurable goods

424

2,033.1 0.1 1.5 1.4 3.7 2.1

Paper and paper products

4241

122.5 -4.3 0.5 5.0 2.5 2.1

Druggists' goods

4242

196.9 -8.6 -4.9 4.0 4.3 9.7

Apparel and piece goods

4243

147.2 4.5 3.6 -0.9 5.4 1.7

Grocery and related products

4244

740.4 2.3 2.8 0.5 1.3 -1.4

Farm product raw materials

4245

81.5 -0.3 -1.4 -1.1 1.4 2.8

Chemicals

4246

126.0 -1.5 3.7 5.3 5.0 1.2

Petroleum

4247

96.8 4.7 3.8 -0.8 4.8 1.0

Alcoholic beverages

4248

172.7 -0.8 1.2 2.0 9.0 7.6

Miscellaneous nondurable goods

4249

349.0 3.7 5.0 1.3 3.9 -1.1

Electronic markets and agents and brokers

425

874.0 2.1 4.4 2.3 6.4 1.9

Electronic markets and agents and brokers

4251

874.0 2.1 4.4 2.3 6.4 1.9

Retail Trade

Retail trade

44-45

15,690.5 2.4 3.7 1.2 3.2 -0.5

Motor vehicle and parts dealers

441

1,793.9 1.5 6.0 4.4 6.0 0.0

Automobile dealers

4411

1,131.7 1.0 6.9 5.9 7.0 0.0

Other motor vehicle dealers

4412

137.3 2.3 5.7 3.3 9.2 3.3

Auto parts, accessories, and tire stores

4413

524.9 -2.9 -1.3 1.6 2.1 3.5

Furniture and home furnishings stores

442

475.6 8.8 8.7 -0.1 1.4 -6.7

Furniture stores

4421

226.1 8.4 5.5 -2.7 3.4 -2.0

Home furnishings stores

4422

249.5 9.1 12.4 3.1 -0.9 -11.9

Electronics and appliance stores

443

517.8 7.0 6.9 -0.1 1.3 -5.2

Electronics and appliance stores

4431

517.8 7.0 6.9 -0.1 1.3 -5.2

Building material and garden supply stores

444

1,206.0 4.2 3.5 -0.6 0.5 -2.9

Building material and supplies dealers

4441

1,053.9 4.0 3.3 -0.6 1.0 -2.2

Lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores

4442

152.1 5.4 4.7 -0.7 -3.6 -8.0

Food and beverage stores

445

2,958.8 -1.7 0.9 2.6 2.8 1.9

Grocery stores

4451

2,548.3 -1.6 0.6 2.2 2.6 2.0

Specialty food stores

4452

247.7 2.4 7.0 4.5 3.7 -3.1

Beer, wine and liquor stores

4453

162.8 -4.4 3.0 7.7 5.3 2.2

Health and personal care stores

446

1,033.9 -0.2 -0.4 -0.2 1.3 1.7

Health and personal care stores

4461

1,033.9 -0.2 -0.4 -0.2 1.3 1.7

Gasoline stations

447

854.1 0.1 1.1 0.9 3.7 2.6

Gasoline stations

4471

854.1 0.1 1.1 0.9 3.7 2.6

Clothing and clothing accessories stores

448

1,496.1 -0.6 3.1 3.8 1.9 -1.2

Clothing stores

4481

1,129.6 -3.4 2.6 6.2 3.2 0.6

Shoe stores

4482

192.7 6.4 2.3 -3.8 4.4 2.1

Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores

4483

173.8 7.4 6.9 -0.4 -3.3 -9.6

Sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores

451

667.1 7.3 6.3 -0.9 -1.0 -6.9

Sporting goods and musical instrument stores

4511

540.1 7.0 8.5 1.4 0.9 -7.0

Book, periodical, and music stores

4512

127.0 8.5 -1.9 -9.6 -7.5 -5.7

General merchandise stores

452

3,096.0 6.0 3.1 -2.7 2.0 -1.1

Department stores

4521

1,501.0 3.9 -2.0 -5.7 -0.5 1.5

Other general merchandise stores

4529

1,595.0 5.1 5.3 0.2 4.3 -1.0

Miscellaneous store retailers

453

966.4 -0.8 6.7 7.5 4.9 -1.7

Florists

4531

82.7 -5.2 9.8 15.9 3.1 -6.2

Office supplies, stationery and gift stores

4532

325.4 -0.3 4.7 4.9 -0.5 -4.9

Used merchandise stores

4533

214.6 -6.9 9.0 17.0 18.7 8.9

Other miscellaneous store retailers

4539

343.7 4.2 7.2 2.8 4.4 -2.6

Nonstore retailers

454

624.8 5.5 8.0 2.3 10.0 1.9

Electronic shopping and mail-order houses

4541

333.2 3.1 9.9 6.6 14.8 4.5

Vending machine operators

4542

44.0 7.5 -0.5 -7.4 -4.6 -4.2

Direct selling establishments

4543

247.6 3.8 1.7 -2.0 3.8 2.0

Food Services and Drinking Places

Food services and drinking places

722

10,211.9 -0.1 4.6 4.7 6.4 1.8

Full-service restaurants

7221

4,788.4 1.0 5.8 4.7 7.0 1.1

Limited-service eating places

7222

4,328.2 -2.0 3.1 5.2 6.0 2.8

Special food services

7223

721.4 0.9 6.0 5.0 4.9 -1.0

Drinking places, alcoholic beverages

7224

373.9 7.6 4.5 -2.9 7.5 2.9



Table 2. Average annual percent change in output per hour, unit labor costs, and related data, 1987-2012
Industry NAICS code Average annual percent change, 1987-2012
Output per hour Output Hours Labor compensation Unit labor costs

Wholesale Trade

Wholesale trade

42

3.0 3.4 0.3 4.2 0.8

Durable goods

423

4.9 4.9 0.0 4.0 -0.8

Motor vehicles and parts

4231

4.2 3.7 -0.4 3.3 -0.4

Furniture and furnishings

4232

1.9 1.1 -0.7 3.7 2.6

Lumber and construction supplies

4233

1.8 1.6 -0.1 2.4 0.7

Commercial equipment

4234

13.6 13.9 0.2 4.4 -8.3

Metals and minerals

4235

-0.4 -0.4 0.0 3.8 4.2

Electric goods

4236

7.6 7.1 -0.5 4.1 -2.7

Hardware and plumbing

4237

1.6 1.9 0.4 4.1 2.1

Machinery and supplies

4238

2.3 2.2 -0.1 4.1 1.8

Miscellaneous durable goods

4239

0.4 1.5 1.1 4.8 3.2

Nondurable goods

424

1.3 1.4 0.2 4.2 2.8

Paper and paper products

4241

1.4 0.6 -0.7 2.8 2.2

Druggists' goods

4242

3.3 4.8 1.4 8.4 3.4

Apparel and piece goods

4243

2.5 2.1 -0.4 3.7 1.6

Grocery and related products

4244

1.1 1.8 0.7 4.2 2.3

Farm product raw materials

4245

0.8 -1.1 -1.9 4.0 5.2

Chemicals

4246

0.6 1.0 0.4 4.2 3.1

Petroleum

4247

2.4 0.3 -2.0 2.7 2.4

Alcoholic beverages

4248

-0.1 1.8 1.9 5.0 3.1

Miscellaneous nondurable goods

4249

0.3 -0.1 -0.4 3.1 3.2

Electronic markets and agents and brokers

425

1.3 3.7 2.4 4.7 1.0

Electronic markets and agents and brokers

4251

1.3 3.7 2.4 4.7 1.0

Retail Trade

Retail trade

44-45

2.8 3.2 0.4 3.2 0.0

Motor vehicle and parts dealers

441

1.8 2.4 0.6 3.3 0.8

Automobile dealers

4411

1.9 2.5 0.6 3.3 0.8

Other motor vehicle dealers

4412

2.4 3.0 0.6 4.1 1.1

Auto parts, accessories, and tire stores

4413

1.3 1.9 0.6 3.1 1.2

Furniture and home furnishings stores

442

4.1 3.5 -0.5 2.3 -1.2

Furniture stores

4421

3.4 2.9 -0.4 2.1 -0.9

Home furnishings stores

4422

4.9 4.3 -0.6 2.6 -1.6

Electronics and appliance stores

443

12.3 13.6 1.1 4.1 -8.3

Electronics and appliance stores

4431

12.3 13.6 1.1 4.1 -8.3

Building material and garden supply stores

444

2.6 3.2 0.6 3.1 -0.1

Building material and supplies dealers

4441

2.3 3.2 0.8 3.3 0.1

Lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores

4442

4.3 3.6 -0.6 2.0 -1.6

Food and beverage stores

445

0.3 0.2 -0.1 2.9 2.6

Grocery stores

4451

0.2 0.2 0.0 3.1 2.9

Specialty food stores

4452

0.3 -0.2 -0.5 1.6 1.7

Beer, wine and liquor stores

4453

2.0 0.9 -1.0 2.1 1.1

Health and personal care stores

446

2.1 3.3 1.1 4.8 1.5

Health and personal care stores

4461

2.1 3.3 1.1 4.8 1.5

Gasoline stations

447

1.7 1.0 -0.7 2.3 1.3

Gasoline stations

4471

1.7 1.0 -0.7 2.3 1.3

Clothing and clothing accessories stores

448

4.2 4.0 -0.2 2.7 -1.3

Clothing stores

4481

4.4 4.6 0.2 2.9 -1.6

Shoe stores

4482

3.6 2.3 -1.2 1.8 -0.5

Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores

4483

3.8 3.1 -0.7 2.9 -0.2

Sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores

451

4.1 4.0 -0.1 3.0 -0.9

Sporting goods and musical instrument stores

4511

4.7 5.2 0.4 3.5 -1.6

Book, periodical, and music stores

4512

2.7 0.9 -1.7 1.7 0.7

General merchandise stores

452

3.1 4.8 1.6 3.6 -1.1

Department stores

4521

0.4 1.4 1.0 2.3 0.8

Other general merchandise stores

4529

5.9 8.4 2.4 5.2 -2.9

Miscellaneous store retailers

453

3.7 3.6 -0.1 2.2 -1.4

Florists

4531

2.9 -0.1 -2.9 -0.3 -0.2

Office supplies, stationery and gift stores

4532

5.8 4.9 -0.8 1.8 -3.0

Used merchandise stores

4533

4.1 5.9 1.7 4.2 -1.7

Other miscellaneous store retailers

4539

1.7 2.7 0.9 2.3 -0.3

Nonstore retailers

454

8.5 8.7 0.2 3.8 -4.5

Electronic shopping and mail-order houses

4541

10.7 14.6 3.6 7.8 -6.0

Vending machine operators

4542

0.8 -2.4 -3.1 0.3 2.7

Direct selling establishments

4543

3.1 1.2 -1.8 0.9 -0.3

Food Services and Drinking Places

Food services and drinking places

722

0.6 2.1 1.5 5.1 3.0

Full-service restaurants

7221

0.6 2.2 1.6 5.9 3.6

Limited-service eating places

7222

0.5 2.2 1.7 4.9 2.7

Special food services

7223

1.4 2.5 1.1 3.7 1.2

Drinking places, alcoholic beverages

7224

0.0 -0.5 -0.5 2.6 3.1

Last Modified Date: August 29, 2013