Productivity and Costs by Industry: Selected Service-Providing and Mining Industries, 2010
Last Modified Date: May 31, 2012
For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, May 31, 2012 USDL-12-1069
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PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS BY INDUSTRY:
SELECTED SERVICE-PROVIDING AND MINING INDUSTRIES, 2010
Labor productivity – defined as output per hour – rose in 69 percent of the 52 service-providing and
mining industries studied in 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This was up from
42 percent in 2009. Unit labor costs, which reflect the total labor costs required to produce a unit of
output, declined in 46 percent of the industries in 2010, compared to 35 percent in 2009.
Productivity increased in more industries in 2010 than in any year since 2003, while output rose in more
industries than in any year since 2007. The number of industries with increases in output and the number
of industries with increases in hours both rose in 2010 after declining in 2007, 2008, and 2009. However,
declining hours continued to contribute to productivity gains for many industries. Of the industries with
productivity increases in 2010, 72 percent registered output increases, while 86 percent posted declines
in labor hours. (See table 1.)
Unit labor costs fell in 23 of 47 service-providing industries, the most since 2003, but in only 1 of the 5
mining industries in 2010.
Industry labor productivity measures are updated as data become available. Productivity measures for
industries in other sectors can be accessed on the BLS Labor Productivity and Costs web site at
Output per hour increased in 32 of the 47 industries studied. In most of these industries, productivity
rose as output growth was accompanied by declines or more modest increases in hours. Several
industries posted double-digit productivity gains as a result: local as well as long-distance general freight
trucking; refrigerated warehousing and storage; radio and television broadcasting; wireless
telecommunications carriers; and travel agencies.
In a few industries, productivity rose despite falling output. In industries such as postal service; couriers
and messengers; video tape and disc rental; photofinishing; and newspaper, book, and directory
publishers, rising labor productivity reflected declines in both labor hours and output, with hours falling
more rapidly than output.
Output per hour rose in four of the five detailed mining industries studied; only coal mining posted a
productivity decline. Productivity was particularly strong in the support activities for mining industry,
where strong growth in output exceeded a large increase in labor hours. However, because support
activities for mining are completely consumed by other mining industries, they are not included in the
final output leaving the sector. After excluding support activities for mining, overall productivity for the
mining sector declined slightly, as output grew more slowly than hours.
Industry productivity performance over the long term contrasts with the performance in 2010. Between
1987 and 2010, labor productivity increased in 87 percent of the detailed service-providing and mining
industries, with over 70 percent of industries recording average productivity growth between 0.1 and 4.0
percent per year. In 2010, large productivity gains were more common than over the longer term; 35
percent of industries posted productivity gains of 6.1 percent or more, the most since 1998.
New Industries and Improvements
With this release, productivity and cost measures are presented for the first time for two industries:
travel arrangement and reservation services (NAICS 5615) and personal care services (NAICS 8121).
Output per hour in the travel arrangement and reservation services industry rose at a rapid rate of 8.3
percent per year on average between 1997 and 2010, and increased 11.8 percent in 2010. Output per
hour in the personal care services industry increased 1.8 percent per year on average between 1987 and
2010, but declined 2.2 percent in 2010.
Also included in this release for the first time are improved productivity and cost measures for the
commercial banking industry. The revised measures reflect a more comprehensive definition of banking
output that covers a broader range of bank services – including loan securitization, investment banking,
insurance provision, and other fee-based services – as well as improved weights for combining detailed
banking services. Labor productivity in commercial banking grew at an average rate of 3.9 percent per
year between 1987 and 2010, but declined 3.1 percent in 2010. A fuller discussion of the changes will
be provided in a forthcoming article in the Monthly Labor Review (MLR).