Drop in unit labor costs in manufacturing last year

February 12, 2003

Unit labor costs in manufacturing fell in 2002, by 0.7 percent. This was the first annual drop in unit labor costs since 1999.

Percent change in unit labor costs, manufacturing, 1993-2002
[Chart data—TXT]

The drop in unit labor costs in 2002 was the result of a 3.8-percent increase in hourly compensation and a 4.6-percent increase in labor productivity.

Unit labor costs in durable goods manufacturing declined 1.5 percent in 2002. In contrast, there was with a 0.6-percent rise in unit labor costs in nondurable goods manufacturing.

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 Productivity and Costs program. Data are subject to revision. Additional information is available in "Productivity and Costs, Fourth Quarter 2002" (PDF) (TXT), news release USDL 03-45.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Drop in unit labor costs in manufacturing last year on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2003/feb/wk2/art03.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.