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Productivity and Costs by Industry: Selected Service-Providing Industries News Release

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, May 23, 2019                                                    USDL-19-0858

Technical information:  (202) 691-5606 • productivity@bls.gov • www.bls.gov/lpc 
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902 • PressOffice@bls.gov


                                          PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS BY INDUSTRY
                                     SELECTED SERVICE-PROVIDING INDUSTRIES - 2018


Labor productivity rose in 18 of 28 selected service-providing industries in 2018, the U.S. Bureau of 
Labor Statistics reported today. This was similar to 2017, when labor productivity increased in 19 of 28 
industries. Output increased in 21 industries in 2018, while hours worked increased in 15 industries.  

Trends in Labor Productivity in 2018

    •  Labor productivity increased in 18 of 28 industries in 2018. Among those with increasing productivity, 
       output grew in 15 industries and hours worked grew in 7 industries.
    •  Productivity gains of at least 7.0 percent occurred in 4 industries: natural gas distribution (13.5 
       percent), drycleaning and laundry services (10.9 percent), wireless telecommunications carriers 
       (10.1 percent), and travel arrangement and reservation services (7.3 percent). In all 4 of these 
       industries, output increases coincided with declines in hours worked.
    •  Hours worked grew in 15 of the 28 industries.
    •  Hours worked increased in 8 industries which recorded declines in productivity. Of these, the 
       largest gains in hours worked were in warehousing and storage (10.4 percent), automotive 
       repair and maintenance (4.6 percent), and couriers and messengers (4.4 percent). 

Unit labor costs declined in 8 industries in 2018. Each of the industries with a decline in unit labor costs 
also recorded an increase in productivity. Increases in labor productivity counter the impact of rising 
hourly compensation on unit labor costs facing employers.

Trends in Unit Labor Costs in 2018

    •  The largest declines in unit labor costs were in natural gas distribution (-9.7 percent) and 
       wireless telecommunications carriers (-7.9 percent). In both industries, productivity grew 
       substantially more than hourly compensation.
    •  All unit labor cost declines occurred in industries where productivity rose. 
    •  Each of the industries where productivity fell also recorded an increase in unit labor costs. 
    •  Hourly compensation rose in all of the 28 industries measured. 

Long Term Productivity Trends 

    •  Over the long term, productivity rose in 45 out of 58 service-providing industries. For the 
       majority of the industries studied, this period extends from 1987 to 2017. 
    •  Median long term productivity growth for all 58 industries was approximately 1.4 percent 
       per year.
    •  Output increased over the long term in 45 industries while hours worked increased in 38 
       industries.
    •  Productivity increased in 40 of the 58 industries in the period from 2007 to 2017 that began with 
       a severe recession. During this period, only 37 industries had increases in output and 26 
       experienced growth in hours worked. 

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                                       Technical Note

Labor Productivity:  Labor productivity describes the relationship between real output and the 
labor hours involved in its production. These measures show the changes from period to period in 
the amount of goods and services produced per hour worked. Although the labor productivity 
measures relate output in an industry to hours worked of all persons in that industry, they do not 
measure the specific contribution of labor to growth in output. Rather, they reflect the joint effects 
of many influences, including: changes in technology; capital investment; utilization of capacity, 
energy, and materials; the use of purchased services inputs, including contract employment 
services; the organization of production; the characteristics and effort of the workforce; and 
managerial skill.

Unit Labor Costs:  Unit labor costs represent the cost of labor required to produce one unit of 
output. The unit labor cost indexes are computed by dividing an index of nominal industry labor 
compensation by an index of real industry output. Unit labor costs also describe the relationship 
between compensation per hour and real output per hour (labor productivity). Increases in hourly 
compensation increase unit labor costs; increases in labor productivity offset compensation 
increases and reduce unit labor costs.

Output:  Real industry output is measured as an annual-weighted index of the changes in the 
various products (in real terms) provided for sale outside the industry. Real industry output is 
usually derived by deflating nominal sales or values of production using BLS price indexes, but for 
some industries it is measured by physical quantities of output. 

Industry output measures are constructed primarily using data from the economic censuses and 
annual surveys of the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce, together with 
information on price changes from BLS. Other data sources include:  the Energy Information 
Administration, U.S. Department of Energy; the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, U.S. 
Department of Transportation; the U.S. Postal Service; the Postal Rate Commission; and the 
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Data from the Quarterly Service Survey from the Census 
Bureau are used to construct preliminary output measures for 2018 for some industries.

Labor Hours:  Labor hours are measured as annual hours worked by all employed persons in an 
industry. Data on industry employment and hours come primarily from the BLS Current 
Employment Statistics (CES) survey and Current Population Survey (CPS). CES data on the 
number of total and production worker jobs held by wage and salary workers in nonfarm 
establishments are supplemented with CPS self-employed and unpaid family worker data to 
estimate industry employment. Hours worked estimates are derived using CES and CPS 
employment, CES data on the average weekly hours paid of production workers, CPS data on 
hours of nonproduction, self-employed, and unpaid family workers, and ratios of hours worked to 
hours paid based on data from the National Compensation Survey (NCS). For some industries, 
employment and hours data are supplemented or further disaggregated using data from the BLS 
Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), the Census Bureau, or other sources. 
Additional sources of employment and hours data for certain service industries include the 
Association of American Railroads, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Postal 
Service. Hours worked are estimated separately for different types of workers and then are directly 
aggregated; no adjustments for labor composition are made.

Labor Compensation:  Labor compensation, defined as payroll plus supplemental payments, is a 
measure of the cost to the employer of securing the services of labor. Payroll includes salaries, 
wages, commissions, dismissal pay, bonuses, vacation and sick leave pay, and compensation in 
kind. Supplemental payments include both legally required expenditures and payments for 
voluntary programs. The legally required portion consists primarily of federal old age and 
survivors’ insurance, unemployment compensation, and workers’ compensation. Payments for 
voluntary programs include all programs not specifically required by legislation, such as the 
employer portion of private health insurance and pension plans. Industry compensation measures 
are constructed primarily using data from the economic censuses and annual surveys of the Census 
Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce. The estimates for 2018 are constructed using data from 
the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).






Table 1. Recent labor productivity, unit labor costs, and related data
Industry 2012 NAICS code 2018
Employment
(thousands)
Percent change, 2017-2018
Labor productivity Unit labor costs Output Hours worked Labor compensation

Utilities

Utilities

22

554.7 4.5 -2.3 4.5 0.0 2.0

Utilities

221

554.7 4.5 -2.3 4.5 0.0 2.0

Power generation and supply

2211

392.7 2.6 -0.9 3.2 0.7 2.3

Natural gas distribution

2212

110.0 13.5 -9.7 10.7 -2.4 0.0

Water, sewage and other systems

2213

52.0 -0.5 6.6 -0.5 0.0 6.0

Transportation and Warehousing

Air transportation

481

481.6 5.1 0.0 5.1 0.0 5.2

Line-haul railroads

482111

166.2 -0.6 5.3 0.0 0.6 5.2

Truck transportation

484

1,704.0 -0.3 5.0 2.4 2.7 7.5

General freight trucking

4841

1,224.4 1.5 3.1 4.0 2.5 7.2

General freight trucking, local

48411

326.5 -0.3 3.7 3.5 3.8 7.4

General freight trucking, long-distance

48412

897.9 2.0 2.9 4.1 2.1 7.2

Specialized freight trucking

4842

479.6 -3.5 8.7 -0.4 3.2 8.3

Postal service

491

608.6 0.0 5.5 -1.5 -1.5 4.0

Postal service

4911

608.6 0.0 5.5 -1.5 -1.5 4.0

Couriers and messengers

492

757.1 -1.6 4.1 2.7 4.4 7.0

Warehousing and storage

493

1,143.4 -7.6 11.2 2.0 10.4 13.4

Warehousing and storage

4931

1,143.4 -7.6 11.2 2.0 10.4 13.4

Information

Publishing

511

761.9 7.3 1.2 9.7 2.3 11.1

Newspaper publishers

51111

153.5 3.8 -1.5 -2.2 -5.8 -3.7

Periodical publishers

51112

96.4 1.8 9.4 -5.5 -7.1 3.4

Software publishers

5112

409.3 4.0 0.5 15.5 11.0 16.0

Broadcasting, except Internet

515

276.2 4.5 0.0 4.9 0.4 4.9

Radio and television broadcasting

5151

221.6 5.7 -2.5 5.7 0.0 3.0

Cable and other subscription programming

5152

54.6 2.1 4.5 3.8 1.6 8.4

Wired telecommunications carriers

5171

551.6 3.1 1.6 -4.6 -7.5 -3.1

Wireless telecommunications carriers

5172

116.9 10.1 -7.9 6.6 -3.1 -1.8

Finance and Insurance

Commercial banking

52211

1,320.4 1.5 2.3 1.7 0.3 4.0

Real Estate and Rental and Leasing

Truck, trailer, and RV rental and leasing

53212

86.1 2.8 6.2 7.2 4.3 13.8

Professional and Technical Services

Accounting and bookkeeping services

5412

1,172.1 -0.9 5.5 0.1 1.0 5.6

Accounting and bookkeeping services

54121

1,172.1 -0.9 5.5 0.1 1.0 5.6

Engineering services

54133

1,013.2 1.9 2.0 3.4 1.4 5.5

Administrative and Waste Services

Travel arrangement and reservation services

5615

244.7 7.3 -1.4 3.1 -3.9 1.7

Health Care and Social Assistance

Medical and diagnostic laboratories

6215

290.7 -0.8 4.0 1.0 1.8 5.1

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

Amusement parks and arcades

7131

214.3 4.8 3.6 3.8 -1.0 7.5

Gambling industries

7132

128.1 6.6 -1.4 1.5 -4.7 0.1

Other Services

Automotive repair and maintenance

8111

1,176.9 -3.9 8.6 0.4 4.6 9.1

Drycleaning and laundry services

8123

311.0 10.9 -4.9 7.3 -3.3 2.1






Table 2. Long run labor productivity, unit labor costs, and related data
Industry 2012 NAICS code 2017
Employment
(thousands)
Average annual percent change, 1987-2017
Labor productivity Unit labor costs Output Hours worked Labor compensation

Utilities

Utilities

22

555.4 2.0 1.6 1.3 -0.7 2.9

Utilities

221

555.4 2.0 1.6 1.3 -0.7 2.9

Power generation and supply

2211

392.7 2.8 0.8 1.9 -0.9 2.7

Natural gas distribution

2212

112.1 0.7 3.6 -0.3 -1.0 3.3

Water, sewage and other systems

2213

50.6 -1.8 4.7 0.7 2.5 5.4

Transportation and Warehousing

Air transportation

481

468.2 3.0 0.9 2.7 -0.3 3.6

Line-haul railroads

482111

167.8 3.6 -0.4 1.8 -1.7 1.4

Truck transportation(1)

484

1,667.3 0.7 1.0 2.0 1.3 3.0

General freight trucking(1)

4841

1,194.8 1.1 1.0 2.3 1.2 3.4

General freight trucking, local(1)

48411

317.7 2.7 0.2 3.7 1.0 3.9

General freight trucking, long-distance

48412

877.1 1.3 0.5 2.2 0.9 2.8

Specialized freight trucking(2)

4842

472.5 0.8 1.9 1.9 1.1 3.8

Used household and office goods moving

48421

101.1 -0.4 2.6 -0.1 0.3 2.5

Other specialized trucking, local(2)

48422

233.8 0.3 2.3 1.7 1.4 4.1

Other specialized trucking, long-distance(2)

48423

137.6 1.1 1.3 3.2 2.0 4.6

Postal service

491

615.4 0.4 2.9 -0.6 -1.0 2.3

Postal service

4911

615.4 0.4 2.9 -0.6 -1.0 2.3

Couriers and messengers

492

710.8 -1.9 3.2 0.6 2.6 3.9

Warehousing and storage(1)

493

1,037.8 1.4 0.3 5.6 4.1 5.8

Warehousing and storage(1)

4931

1,037.8 1.4 0.3 5.6 4.1 5.8

General warehousing and storage(1)

49311

914.9 2.5 -0.5 6.9 4.3 6.4

Refrigerated warehousing and storage(1)

49312

62.5 -0.2 1.5 2.9 3.1 4.4

Information

Publishing

511

760.5 3.8 1.6 3.3 -0.5 5.0

Newspaper, book, and directory publishers

5111

379.0 0.1 4.0 -2.5 -2.6 1.3

Newspaper publishers

51111

168.8 -0.6 4.0 -4.2 -3.7 -0.5

Periodical publishers

51112

102.3 -0.4 4.7 -1.6 -1.2 3.0

Book publishers

51113

66.4 -0.2 4.7 -0.9 -0.7 3.7

Software publishers

5112

381.5 10.8 -5.2 17.2 5.8 11.1

Motion picture and video exhibition

51213

148.9 1.4 2.0 1.8 0.4 3.8

Broadcasting, except Internet

515

276.3 3.0 1.7 2.9 -0.1 4.6

Radio and television broadcasting

5151

222.2 2.2 1.7 1.8 -0.4 3.5

Radio broadcasting

51511

87.5 3.7 1.1 2.5 -1.2 3.6

Cable and other subscription programming

5152

54.1 5.2 2.9 6.4 1.2 9.5

Wired telecommunications carriers

5171

586.6 3.6 -0.7 2.6 -0.9 1.9

Wireless telecommunications carriers

5172

120.3 11.9 -6.9 18.5 5.9 10.4

Finance and Insurance

Commercial banking

52211

1,323.6 3.0 2.0 3.0 0.0 5.0

Real Estate and Rental and Leasing

Passenger car rental

532111

122.3 2.1 1.4 3.1 1.0 4.6

Truck, trailer, and RV rental and leasing

53212

79.8 1.9 1.1 2.7 0.7 3.8

Video tape and disc rental

53223

10.3 6.7 -2.3 -2.3 -8.4 -4.6

Professional and Technical Services

Accounting and bookkeeping services(3)

5412

1,151.7 2.6 1.0 3.3 0.6 4.4

Accounting and bookkeeping services(3)

54121

1,151.7 2.6 1.0 3.3 0.6 4.4

Offices of certified public accountants(3)

541211

489.5 2.0 2.1 3.0 1.0 5.2

Tax preparation services

541213

137.2 0.5 2.1 2.0 1.5 4.2

Other accounting services(3)

541219

353.3 4.6 -1.8 4.7 0.1 2.8

Architectural services

54131

208.9 1.4 1.9 2.6 1.2 4.5

Engineering services

54133

994.2 1.2 2.7 2.8 1.6 5.6

Advertising agencies

54181

219.0 1.9 2.1 2.4 0.5 4.6

Photography studios, portrait

541921

58.4 0.3 1.7 1.2 1.0 2.9

Veterinary services(4)

54194

386.4 -0.2 3.4 2.3 2.6 5.8

Administrative and Waste Services

Employment placement and executive search(5)

56131

303.3 4.3 0.0 5.3 1.0 5.3

Travel arrangement and reservation services(3)

5615

245.8 6.0 -1.0 4.1 -1.8 3.0

Travel agencies

56151

107.5 5.6 -0.7 4.6 -0.9 3.8

Janitorial services

56172

1,465.6 1.7 1.8 3.4 1.8 5.3

Health Care and Social Assistance

Medical and diagnostic laboratories(5)

6215

282.1 1.9 0.5 5.0 3.0 5.5

Medical laboratories(5)

621511

201.1 1.9 0.5 5.0 3.0 5.5

Diagnostic imaging centers(5)

621512

81.0 2.1 0.8 5.0 2.8 5.8

Hospitals, except psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals(6)

6221,3

4,886.1 0.5 3.2 2.0 1.5 5.3

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

Amusement parks and arcades(7)

7131

210.6 -1.4 5.3 -0.7 0.8 4.6

Amusement and theme parks

71311

182.5 -0.5 4.0 1.8 2.3 5.9

Gambling industries(3)

7132

131.4 2.1 2.0 2.1 0.0 4.2

Golf courses and country clubs(2)

71391

395.4 -1.2 4.1 0.1 1.3 4.2

Fitness and recreational sports centers(2)

71394

658.5 3.7 -0.7 4.4 0.7 3.7

Bowling centers

71395

68.8 0.7 3.0 -1.1 -1.7 1.9

Accommodation and Food Services

Accommodation and food services

72

13,978.8 0.8 2.7 2.3 1.6 5.1

Accommodation

721

2,027.2 1.9 1.8 2.7 0.8 4.6

Traveler accommodation

7211

1,934.1 2.0 1.8 2.8 0.8 4.6

Hotels and motels, except casino hotels

72111

1,624.4 1.4 2.5 2.2 0.8 4.7

Food services and drinking places

722

11,951.6 0.4 3.0 2.2 1.8 5.3

Special food services

7223

843.4 1.2 1.5 2.5 1.2 4.0

Drinking places, alcoholic beverages

7224

405.5 -0.3 3.1 -0.1 0.2 3.0

Restaurants and other eating places

72251

10,702.7 0.4 3.2 2.3 1.9 5.6

Full-service restaurants

722511

5,482.2 0.5 3.6 2.3 1.7 6.0

Limited-service eating places

722513,4,5

5,220.5 0.4 2.8 2.4 2.0 5.2

Other Services

Automotive repair and maintenance

8111

1,129.1 1.1 2.1 1.5 0.4 3.7

Reupholstery and furniture repair

81142

21.0 -0.9 3.8 -2.8 -2.0 0.8

Personal care services

8121

1,262.9 2.2 1.7 3.4 1.2 5.2

Hair, nail, and skin care services

81211

1,037.0 2.0 1.8 3.0 1.0 4.9

Funeral homes and funeral services

81221

109.5 -0.2 3.9 -0.3 0.0 3.6

Drycleaning and laundry services

8123

313.5 2.0 1.5 1.1 -0.9 2.6

Coin-operated laundries and drycleaners

81231

42.7 2.3 1.8 0.4 -1.9 2.3

Drycleaning and laundry services

81232

138.1 0.8 2.2 -1.2 -1.9 1.0

Linen and uniform supply

81233

132.7 2.3 0.9 3.1 0.8 4.1

Photofinishing

81292

10.4 3.4 1.7 -4.0 -7.1 -2.4

Footnotes
(1) For NAICS industries 484, 4841, 48411, 493, 4931, 49311, and 49312, average annual percent changes are for 1992-2017.
(2) For NAICS industries 4842, 48422, 48423, 71391, and 71394, average annual percent changes are for 2002-2017.
(3) For NAICS industries 5412, 54121, 541211, 541219, 5615, and 7132, average annual percent changes are for 1997-2017.
(4) For NAICS industry 54194, average annual percent changes are for 2004-2017.
(5) For NAICS industries 56131, 6215, 621511, and 621512, average annual percent changes are for 1994-2017.
(6) For NAICS industry 6221,3, average annual percent changes are for 1993-2016. Employment is for 2016.
(7) For NAICS industry 7131, average annual percent changes are for 2007-2017.


Last Modified Date: May 23, 2019