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June 1984, Vol. 107, No. 6
A new BLS survey measures
the ratio of hours worked to hours paid
For many years the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been collecting data on the hours of production and nonsupervisory workers in nonagricultural establishments. These hours, reported in the Current Employment Statistics survey, measure hours paid and thus include paid holidays, sick leave, and vacations. In 1982, the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting data on hours at work of nonsupervisory and production workers in nonagricultural business establishments. These hours include the time an employee is required to be on the job site or at the prescribed place of work and thus exclude holidays, sick leave, and vacations. However, in addition to the actual time the worker is engaged in productive activities, this definition includes short rest periods, coffee breaks, standby or ready time, downtime, portal-to-portal time (if paid), washup time (if paid), travel time from job site to job site within the working day, travel time away from home if it cuts across the working day, and paid training periods.1 In 1982, the most recent year for which data are available, hours at work accounted for about 93 percent of hours paid for production and nonsupervisory employees.
The Hours at Work Survey measures the relationship between hours at work and hours paid in order to provide the Bureau with the necessary data to construct measures of labor input which more closely meet the conceptual requirements for productivity measurement: the actual flow of hours devoted to the production of output.2 This new survey, therefore, represents another enhancement and expansion of BLS's productivity measurement program.
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1 Report of the Task Force on Hours Worked (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1976).2 Trends in Multifactor Productivity, 1948-81 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1983), pp. 31 and 66-68.
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Productivity and Costs
National Current Employment Statistics
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Trends in hours of work since the mid-1970s.—Apr. 1997.
Hours at work: a new base for BLS productivity statistics.—Feb. 1990.
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