Jump in unit labor costs in manufacturing

June 11, 2001

Unit labor costs rose at an annual rate of 7.0 percent in manufacturing in the first quarter of 2001 (seasonally adjusted), according to revised data from BLS.

Percent change in unit labor costs, seasonally adjusted, 1999 II-2001 I (percent change from previous quarter at annual rate)
[Chart data—TXT]

The combination of a 2.1-percent drop in manufacturing productivity and a 4.7-percent increase in hourly compensation in the first quarter caused the 7.0-percent rise in unit labor costs in manufacturing. The last time unit labor costs increased this much in one quarter was in the first quarter of 1991, when they rose 7.2 percent.

Unit labor costs were up in both parts of manufacturing in the first quarter of 2001. In durable goods industries, they rose 6.5 percent, and, in nondurable goods industries, they rose even more: 8.6 percent.

Unit labor costs—the cost of the labor input required to produce one unit of output—are computed by dividing labor costs in nominal terms by real output. Unit labor costs can also be expressed as the ratio of hourly compensation to labor productivity.

These data are a product of the BLS Quarterly Labor Productivityprogram. Data are subject to revision. Additional information is available in "Productivity and Costs, First Quarter 2001 (revised)," news release USDL 01-163.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Jump in unit labor costs in manufacturing on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2001/june/wk2/art01.htm (visited September 27, 2016).


Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics

  • A look at healthcare spending, employment, pay, benefits, and prices
    As one of the largest U.S. industries, healthcare is steadily growing to meet the needs of an increasing population with an increasing life expectancy. This Spotlight looks at how much people spend on healthcare, current and projected employment in the industry, employer-provided healthcare benefits, healthcare prices, and pay for workers in healthcare occupations.

  • Employment and Wages in Healthcare Occupations
    Healthcare occupations are a significant percentage of U.S. employment. Some of the largest and highest paying occupations are in healthcare. This Spotlight examines employment and wages for healthcare occupations.

  • Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
    Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.