Productivity decreases in food services, but increases in wholesale and retail trade in 2012

September 03, 2013

Labor productivity—defined as output per hour—fell slightly in food services and drinking places, but rose in wholesale trade and in retail trade in 2012.



Percent change in output per hour, output, and hours, food services and drinking places, wholesale trade, and retail trade, 2002–2012
YearFood services and drinking placesWholesale tradeRetail trade
per hour
  Output    Hours  Output
per hour
  Output    Hours  Output
per hour
  Output    Hours  


















In food services and drinking places, labor productivity declined 0.1 percent, as output grew 4.6 percent and hours rose 4.7 percent. Productivity rose most in drinking places, alcoholic beverages, where output increased and hours fell. Productivity fell in limited-service
eating places, where hours rose more rapidly than output. 

In wholesale trade, labor productivity rose 2.5 percent as output grew 3.9 percent and hours increased 1.4 percent. Productivity increased most rapidly in motor vehicles and parts wholesalers, lumber and construction supplies wholesalers, and metals and minerals wholesalers, as output rose substantially in each. 

In retail trade, labor productivity grew 2.4 percent as output increased 3.7 percent and hours rose 1.2 percent. The largest productivity increases were in home furnishing stores, where output rose considerably more than hours, in furniture stores, where output rose despite a decline in hours, and in book, periodical, and music stores, where output fell but hours declined even more.

In food services and drinking places, output and hours both rose more rapidly in 2012 than in 2011, but hours rose faster than output. Food services output increased 4.6 percent in 2012, compared with 3.6 percent in 2011; hours increased 4.7 percent in 2012 and 3.6 percent in 2011.

Productivity grew faster in wholesale trade and retail trade in 2012 than in 2011, as output increased at the same rate as in the previous year (3.9 percent) for wholesale trade and more rapidly for retail trade (3.7 percent in 2012, compared with 3.3 percent in 2011), while hours rose more slowly in both sectors in 2012 (1.4 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively) than in 2011 (3.1 percent and 1.8 percent).

From 1987 to 2012, output per hour increased at an average annual rate of 0.6 percent in food services and drinking places, 3.0 percent in wholesale trade, and 2.8 percent in retail trade.

These data are from the Productivity and Costs program. To learn more, see "Productivity and Costs by Industry: Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, and Food Services and Drinking Places Industries, 2011" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL-13-1773.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Productivity decreases in food services, but increases in wholesale and retail trade in 2012 on the Internet at (visited September 25, 2016).


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