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


For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, August 31, 2010                                           USDL-10-1209

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, 2009


Labor productivity - defined as output per hour - fell in wholesale trade, but rose in retail trade and in 
food services and drinking places, in 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Productivity 
changes were as follows:

                            -3.3 percent in wholesale trade,
                             1.5 percent in retail trade, and
                             1.0 percent in food services and drinking places.

In comparison, labor productivity fell in each of the three sectors overall in 2008. However, both output 
and hours declined more rapidly in each of the sectors in 2009 than they did in 2008.  

Unit labor costs, which reflect the total labor costs required to produce a unit of output, declined in 
retail trade but rose in wholesale trade and food services and drinking places. By comparison, unit labor 
costs increased in each of the sectors in 2008.

Productivity rose in 2009 in nearly 60 percent of the 50 detailed industries studied. (See table 1.) This 
was higher than the 36 percent of detailed industries that recorded productivity increases the previous 
year. In 2009, productivity growth in most industries resulted from declines in hours that more than 
offset changes in output. Output grew in only 10 of the detailed industries in 2009, while hours declined 
in 47. In comparison, output grew in 14 industries and hours declined in 30 in 2008. In 2009, only a 
single industry - farm product raw materials wholesalers - registered productivity growth as a result of 
increases in both output and hours. Unit labor costs declined in 46 percent of the detailed industries in 
2009, compared to 32 percent in 2008.

Wholesale trade

Labor productivity fell 3.3 percent as output declined 10.1 percent and hours fell 7.1 percent. Output per 
hour rose in eight of the 19 detailed wholesale trade industries in 2009, compared with five in 2008. 
Productivity fell sharply in motor vehicles and parts wholesalers and in machinery and supplies 
wholesalers. Output grew in two industries, while hours declined in 18. Unit labor costs declined in six 
industries in 2009.

Retail trade

Labor productivity grew 1.5 percent while output and hours declined by 4.4 and 5.8 percent, 
respectively. Output per hour increased in 18 of the 27 detailed retail trade industries in 2009, compared 
with 12 in 2008. Output rose in eight industries while hours declined in 25 industries. Productivity 
increased most rapidly in florists, in other motor vehicle dealers, and in electronics and appliance stores, 
where hours fell sharply, as well as in specialty food stores where hours declined less rapidly. Unit labor 
costs fell in 16 industries.

Food services and drinking places

Labor productivity rose 1.0 percent as output fell 2.5 percent and hours declined by 3.5 percent. Output 
per hour increased in three of the four detailed food services and drinking places industries in 2009, an 
improvement over 2008, when productivity grew in only one industry. Output and hours fell in all the 
industries in 2009 and unit labor costs fell in one industry. 

Over the longer term, 1987 - 2009, output per hour increased in wholesale trade, retail trade, and food 
services and drinking places at the following average annual rates:

                             2.6 percent in wholesale trade,        	
                             2.9 percent in retail trade, and  
                             0.7 percent in food services and drinking places.	

Output, hours, and unit labor costs also rose in all three sectors over the period. (See table 2.)  Between 
1987 and 2009, productivity increased in 46 of the 50 detailed industries and unit labor costs fell in 17.

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 as data become available. Productivity data through 
2008 for industries in mining, manufacturing, and services were last published on July 9, 2010 and can 
be found on the BLS Labor Productivity and Costs web site at www.bls.gov/lpc.


                                         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. 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. The measures in this news release incorporate current data from the Census 
Bureau’s Annual Wholesale Trade Report (March 2010), Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey (May 2010), 
Annual Retail Trade Survey (March 2010), and the Annual Revision of the Monthly Retail and Food 
Services: Sales and Inventories (April 2010).
      
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. Data from the Current 
Population Survey (CPS) are also used to supplement the CES data. CPS data are used 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. 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 compensation increases and lower unit labor costs. 

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.
      
Revisions: This news release incorporates preliminary data from the Census Bureau’s 2007 Economic 
Census; the labor productivity and output series for some industries have been revised for 2008 and prior 
years as a result. This news release also incorporates the annual benchmark revision of the BLS Current 
Employment Statistics (CES) survey published in February 2010. The industries included in this release 
are classified according to the 2007 NAICS. Since the last release of data for wholesale trade, retail 
trade, and food services and drinking places on August 28, 2009, the base year has been changed from 
1997 to 2002 for all indexes. All of the measures for 2009 in this release are preliminary and subject to 
revision.

Additional Information: 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.

Industry productivity and related indexes and rates of change can be accessed online by visiting the 
Labor Productivity and Costs web site at http://www.bls.gov/lpc/. Levels of industry employment, 
hours, labor compensation, value of production, and the implicit price deflator for output for these 
industries are available upon request 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.

To subscribe to the industry productivity program’s electronic notification services, send an e-mail to 
dipsnews@bls.gov with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.


Table 1.   Percent change in output per hour, output, hours, compensation, and unit labor costs, 2008-2009

                                                                                      Percent change, 2008-2009
                                                                2009     ---------------------------------------------------
 NAICS                        Industry                       Employment   Output                        Labor     Unit labor
  code                                                      (thousands)  per hour   Output    Hours  compensation   costs

                          Wholesale Trade

42       Wholesale trade                                         5793      -3.3     -10.1      -7.1      -7.2        3.3

423          Durable goods                                       2919      -6.6     -15.1      -9.1     -10.2        5.8
4231             Motor vehicles and parts                         327     -14.7     -21.6      -8.1      -9.5       15.5
4232             Furniture and furnishings                        103       2.9     -16.6     -18.9     -18.9       -2.8
4233             Lumber and construction supplies                 208      -8.4     -23.3     -16.2     -16.8        8.4
4234             Commercial equipment                             634       1.8      -1.3      -3.1      -4.4       -3.1
4235             Metals and minerals                              117     -11.0     -25.0     -15.7     -18.1        9.3
4236             Electric goods                                   332       2.3      -8.3     -10.4     -10.8       -2.7
4237             Hardware and plumbing                            237      -8.9     -17.2      -9.1      -9.2        9.7
4238             Machinery and supplies                           653     -13.8     -19.7      -6.8     -11.3       10.4
4239             Miscellaneous durable goods                      307      -3.7     -16.2     -13.0     -14.6        1.8

424          Nondurable goods                                    2048       0.8      -4.6      -5.3      -3.0        1.6
4241             Paper and paper products                         132      -1.3      -9.0      -7.7      -8.7        0.2
4242             Druggists' goods                                 205       8.8      -1.5      -9.5      -1.0        0.6
4243             Apparel and piece goods                          142       4.4      -5.1      -9.2      -9.8       -4.9
4244             Grocery and related products                     744       0.0      -4.7      -4.7      -0.6        4.3
4245             Farm product raw materials                        76       8.3      10.0       1.6       5.3       -4.3
4246             Chemicals                                        126     -10.6     -13.7      -3.4      -6.1        8.7
4247             Petroleum                                        100      -5.6      -8.8      -3.4      -3.7        5.6
4248             Alcoholic beverages                              164       2.2      -1.2      -3.4      -0.5        0.7
4249             Miscellaneous nondurable goods                   359       5.5       0.2      -5.0      -5.3       -5.5

425          Electronic markets and agents and brokers            826      -6.7     -10.2      -3.7      -5.4        5.3
4251             Electronic markets and agents and brokers        826      -6.7     -10.2      -3.7      -5.4        5.3

                            Retail Trade

44-45    Retail trade                                           15446       1.5      -4.4      -5.8      -5.0       -0.6

441          Motor vehicle and parts dealers                     1707      -1.8     -12.1     -10.5     -12.2       -0.1
4411             Automobile dealers                              1066      -1.0     -13.3     -12.4     -14.2       -1.1
4412             Other motor vehicle dealers                      142      14.1      -7.6     -19.0     -19.6      -13.0
4413             Auto parts, accessories, and tire stores         499      -2.6      -5.9      -3.4      -2.1        4.0

442          Furniture and home furnishings stores                486       6.2     -10.9     -16.1     -14.8       -4.3
4421             Furniture stores                                 238       4.2     -10.4     -14.0     -14.6       -4.6
4422             Home furnishings stores                          249       8.6     -11.5     -18.5     -15.0       -4.0

443          Electronics and appliance stores                     511      13.8       0.5     -11.6     -10.9      -11.4
4431             Electronics and appliance stores                 511      13.8       0.5     -11.6     -10.9      -11.4

444          Building material and garden supply stores          1211      -4.2     -11.6      -7.8      -7.4        4.8
4441             Building material and supplies dealers          1064      -5.3     -13.1      -8.2      -7.6        6.3
4442             Lawn and garden equipment and supplies stor      147       2.8      -2.1      -4.8      -6.1       -4.0

445          Food and beverage stores                            2924       1.9      -1.1      -2.9      -1.4       -0.3
4451             Grocery stores                                  2527       1.4      -1.3      -2.7      -0.3        1.0
4452             Specialty food stores                            240      13.9       8.8      -4.4      -8.6      -16.1
4453             Beer, wine and liquor stores                     157       0.2      -2.5      -2.7      -6.0       -3.6

446          Health and personal care stores                     1028       3.3       0.1      -3.1       1.6        1.6
4461             Health and personal care stores                 1028       3.3       0.1      -3.1       1.6        1.6

447          Gasoline stations                                    842      -0.4      -3.2      -2.9      -0.5        2.9
4471             Gasoline stations                                842      -0.4      -3.2      -2.9      -0.5        2.9

448          Clothing and clothing accessories stores            1467      -0.2      -4.6      -4.3      -6.9       -2.5
4481             Clothing stores                                 1103       0.8      -4.2      -5.0      -7.4       -3.3
4482             Shoe stores                                      184      -6.6      -5.4       1.2      -5.3        0.1
4483             Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores       180       0.7      -5.5      -6.2      -6.3       -0.8

451          Sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores        681      10.6      -1.1     -10.6      -5.8       -4.7
4511             Sporting goods and musical instrument store      507      11.4       0.3     -10.0      -5.1       -5.3
4512             Book, periodical, and music stores               174       8.1      -5.2     -12.4      -7.8       -2.7

452          General merchandise stores                          2971       2.6      -0.4      -2.9       0.7        1.1
4521             Department stores                               1471      -1.4      -5.6      -4.3      -1.7        4.1
4529             Other general merchandise stores                1500       4.0       2.3      -1.6       3.0        0.7

453          Miscellaneous store retailers                        969      -0.5      -6.4      -5.9      -3.6        3.0
4531             Florists                                          94      16.0      -3.5     -16.8     -13.6      -10.5
4532             Office supplies, stationery and gift stores      355      10.7      -0.9     -10.5      -7.0       -6.1
4533             Used merchandise stores                          183      -4.9       1.4       6.7      11.3        9.7
4539             Other miscellaneous store retailers              337      -8.4     -11.8      -3.7      -3.3        9.7

454          Nonstore retailers                                   649       7.1       3.8      -3.1      -2.2       -5.8
4541             Electronic shopping and mail-order houses        300       5.2       4.6      -0.6      -1.3       -5.6
4542             Vending machine operators                         55      -9.2     -11.3      -2.3     -10.8        0.5
4543             Direct selling establishments                    294      10.5       3.2      -6.5      -1.8       -4.9

                 Food Services and Drinking Places

722          Food services and drinking places                   9648       1.0      -2.5      -3.5      -1.9        0.6
7221             Full-service restaurants                        4518       0.3      -3.4      -3.6      -2.0        1.5
7222             Limited-service eating places                   4120       1.9      -1.3      -3.1      -0.2        1.1
7223             Special food services                            651      -0.2      -3.8      -3.6      -7.9       -4.3
7224             Drinking places, alcoholic beverages             360       2.8      -3.2      -5.8      -0.1        3.2


Table 2.  Average annual percent change in output per hour, output, hours, compensation, and unit labor costs, 1987-2009

                                                                   Average annual percent change, 1987-2009
                                                             ----------------------------------------------------
 NAICS                        Industry                         Output                        Labor     Unit labor
  code                                                        per hour   Output    Hours  compensation   costs

                           Wholesale Trade

42       Wholesale trade                                         2.6       2.9       0.3       4.3       1.3

423          Durable goods                                       4.4       4.4       0.0       4.1      -0.3
4231             Motor vehicles and parts                        1.9       1.3      -0.6       3.2       1.9
4232             Furniture and furnishings                       1.8       1.3      -0.5       3.7       2.3
4233             Lumber and construction supplies                0.6       0.9       0.3       2.8       1.8
4234             Commercial equipment                           14.5      14.8       0.3       4.7      -8.8
4235             Metals and minerals                            -1.3      -1.5      -0.3       3.7       5.2
4236             Electric goods                                  8.3       7.7      -0.5       4.3      -3.2
4237             Hardware and plumbing                           1.1       1.7       0.6       4.4       2.7
4238             Machinery and supplies                          1.6       1.4      -0.1       3.9       2.4
4239             Miscellaneous durable goods                     1.0       1.6       0.6       4.7       3.1

424          Nondurable goods                                    1.0       1.1       0.1       4.5       3.4
4241             Paper and paper products                        1.7       0.7      -1.0       3.1       2.4
4242             Druggists' goods                                2.3       4.1       1.7       9.3       5.0
4243             Apparel and piece goods                         2.9       2.3      -0.5       3.3       1.0
4244             Grocery and related products                    0.7       1.5       0.7       4.5       3.0
4245             Farm product raw materials                      1.4      -1.0      -2.4       4.0       5.1
4246             Chemicals                                      -0.2       0.3       0.5       4.2       3.9
4247             Petroleum                                       2.3      -0.1      -2.3       2.8       2.9
4248             Alcoholic beverages                             0.3       1.9       1.6       5.0       3.0
4249             Miscellaneous nondurable goods                  0.0      -0.2      -0.2       3.2       3.4

425          Electronic markets and agents and brokers           0.6       2.9       2.3       4.4       1.5
4251             Electronic markets and agents and brokers       0.6       2.9       2.3       4.4       1.5

                            Retail Trade

44-45    Retail trade                                            2.9       3.3       0.3       3.3       0.1

441          Motor vehicle and parts dealers                     1.8       2.1       0.2       3.0       0.9
4411             Automobile dealers                              1.8       1.9       0.1       2.9       0.9
4412             Other motor vehicle dealers                     3.2       4.1       0.8       4.4       0.3
4413             Auto parts, accessories, and tire stores        1.7       2.0       0.3       3.1       1.1

442          Furniture and home furnishings stores               3.8       3.3      -0.5       2.6      -0.7
4421             Furniture stores                                3.2       2.8      -0.4       2.2      -0.6
4422             Home furnishings stores                         4.6       4.0      -0.6       3.1      -0.9

443          Electronics and appliance stores                   13.5      14.2       0.6       4.0      -9.0
4431             Electronics and appliance stores               13.5      14.2       0.6       4.0      -9.0

444          Building material and garden supply stores          2.5       3.4       0.9       3.6       0.2
4441             Building material and supplies dealers          2.2       3.3       1.1       3.8       0.4
4442             Lawn and garden equipment and supplies store    4.3       3.5      -0.7       2.2      -1.3

445          Food and beverage stores                            0.4       0.2      -0.2       3.1       3.0
4451             Grocery stores                                  0.2       0.1      -0.1       3.4       3.2
4452             Specialty food stores                           0.5      -0.1      -0.5       1.6       1.7
4453             Beer, wine and liquor stores                    2.0       0.7      -1.3       2.2       1.5

446          Health and personal care stores                     2.5       3.7       1.2       5.2       1.5
4461             Health and personal care stores                 2.5       3.7       1.2       5.2       1.5

447          Gasoline stations                                   1.9       1.0      -0.8       2.4       1.4
4471             Gasoline stations                               1.9       1.0      -0.8       2.4       1.4

448          Clothing and clothing accessories stores            4.7       4.1      -0.5       2.7      -1.3
4481             Clothing stores                                 5.0       4.7      -0.4       3.0      -1.6
4482             Shoe stores                                     3.4       2.3      -1.1       1.5      -0.8
4483             Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores      3.9       3.2      -0.7       2.6      -0.6

451          Sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores       4.1       4.2       0.1       3.4      -0.8
4511             Sporting goods and musical instrument stores    4.8       5.1       0.3       3.6      -1.4
4512             Book, periodical, and music stores              2.5       2.1      -0.4       2.7       0.6

452          General merchandise stores                          3.5       5.1       1.6       3.9      -1.2
4521             Department stores                               0.7       1.7       1.0       2.5       0.7
4529             Other general merchandise stores                6.7       9.0       2.2       5.6      -3.1

453          Miscellaneous store retailers                       4.0       3.8      -0.2       2.3      -1.4
4531             Florists                                        3.7       0.4      -3.2       0.0      -0.4
4532             Office supplies, stationery and gift stores     6.4       5.6      -0.8       2.3      -3.1
4533             Used merchandise stores                         4.8       5.9       1.0       3.9      -1.9
4539             Other miscellaneous store retailers             1.5       2.6       1.1       2.3      -0.3

454          Nonstore retailers                                  8.8       8.9       0.1       3.6      -4.9
4541             Electronic shopping and mail-order houses      11.4      15.2       3.4       7.4      -6.7
4542             Vending machine operators                       0.8      -1.9      -2.6       0.9       2.9
4543             Direct selling establishments                   3.6       1.7      -1.8       1.3      -0.4

                 Food Services and Drinking Places

722          Food services and drinking places                   0.7       2.0       1.4       5.2       3.1
7221             Full-service restaurants                        0.6       2.1       1.4       6.0       3.9
7222             Limited-service eating places                   0.7       2.3       1.6       5.0       2.7
7223             Special food services                           1.6       2.6       0.9       3.5       0.9
7224             Drinking places, alcoholic beverages           -0.3      -0.7      -0.4       2.2       2.9

Last Modified Date: August 31, 2010