Multifactor productivity in nonmanufacturing industries, 1987–2006

July 13, 2010

Over the 1987–2006 period, the average annual compound multifactor productivity growth rates for 42 nonmanufacturing industries were positive or zero for 25 of the 42 industries and negative for 17 industries.

Multifactor productivity growth for 42 nonmanufacturing industries, compound annual rates of change, 1987–2006
[Chart data]

Among the 42 industries, 6 exhibited average annual multifactor productivity growth rates of 2.0 percent per year or higher. Securities, commodity contracts, and investments had by far the highest growth rate: 7.2 percent. In hindsight, this percentage could be reflective of an overheated financial market.

Computer systems design and warehousing and storage also showed strong growth: 2.9 percent and 2.7 percent per year, respectively.

Of the 17 industries reporting negative productivity over the 20-year period, 2 recorded declines of more than 1.0 percent per year: rental and leasing services, reporting the lowest growth rate, ‑2.3 percent, and legal services, with a growth rate of ‑1.7 percent.

Other industries with long-term negative productivity growth rates were construction, hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities, and transit and ground passenger transportation.

Over time, fewer industries exhibited negative multifactor productivity growth rates. From 1990 to 1995, of 42 industries, 21 exhibited negative multifactor productivity trends. The number fell to 19 industries for the 1995–2000 period and to 14 for 2000–06.

These data are from the Multifactor Productivity program. To learn more, see Nonmanufacturing industry contributions to multifactor productivity, 1987–2006 (PDF), in the June 2010 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. Multifactor productivity, measured as output per unit of labor, capital, and other measurable inputs, describes the intangible influences on labor productivity, such as improvements in efficiency and technology.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Multifactor productivity in nonmanufacturing industries, 1987–2006 on the Internet at (visited September 25, 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.