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Economic News Release

Productivity and Costs by Industry: Selected Service-Providing Industries - 2021

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, June 30, 2022                                              USDL-22-1352

Technical information: 	(202) 691-5606 
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902

                               PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS BY INDUSTRY
                           SELECTED SERVICE-PROVIDING INDUSTRIES - 2021

Labor productivity rose in 24 of 30 selected service-providing industries in 2021, the U.S. Bureau of 
Labor Statistics reported today. Increases in both output and hours worked were widespread in 2021. 
Output rose in 27 industries, more than twice the 11 industries that saw increases in 2020. Hours worked 
increased in 18 industries in 2021. This was three times as many as the 6 industries which had growth in 
hours worked in 2020. In 2020, labor productivity increased in 17 of 30 industries as declines in hours 
outpaced declines in output for many industries. 

Change in productivity is approximately equal to the change in output minus the change in hours worked. 
In three of the six industries with the largest change in productivity, hours worked fell while output 
increased, leading to productivity gains. This was the case in travel arrangement and reservation services, 
the industry with the highest productivity growth, as well as two broadcasting industries: radio and 
television broadcasting and cable and other subscription programming. 

Productivity also increased in three industries where hours worked increased at a slower rate than output. 
This was the case in amusement parks and arcades, air transportation, and full-service restaurants. 

Trends in Labor Productivity in 2021

      Labor productivity rose in 24 of 30 industries in 2021.
      There were 4 industries where productivity rose more than 25 percent: travel arrangement and 
       reservation services (136.8 percent), amusement parks and arcades (87.4 percent), air
       transportation (61.8 percent), and full-service restaurants (25.3 percent). In all 4 of those
       industries, output grew more than 44 percent.
      The three industries with the greatest productivity gains in 2021 also saw the largest declines in 
       2020. In each industry productivity fell over 20 percent and output fell by over 40 percent.
      Hours worked increased in 18 of the 30 industries.
      Hours worked rose in each of the five industries which recorded declines in productivity. Two 
       of these industries had double-digit growth in hours worked: warehousing and storage (15.8 
       percent) and couriers and messengers (10.5 percent).  

Unit labor costs decreased in 20 industries in 2021. In 19 of these industries, productivity increased. 
Unit labor costs reflect the total labor costs required to produce a unit of output. Unit labor costs 
increase when hourly compensation growth exceeds productivity growth. Changes in labor productivity 
counter the impact of changes in hourly compensation on unit labor costs facing employers. Hourly 
compensation increased more than productivity in all four industries with both rising productivity and 
unit labor costs.

Trends in Unit Labor Costs in 2021

      The largest declines in unit labor costs were in air transportation (-37.2 percent), amusement 
       parks and arcades (-44.8 percent), and travel arrangement and reservation services (-51.6 
       percent). Productivity rose by more than 60 percent in each of these industries.
      Two industries had double-digit rates of growth in unit labor costs: couriers and messengers 
       (15.8 percent) and medical and diagnostic laboratories (13.7 percent). Both industries also 
       had double-digit gains in output, hours worked, and hourly compensation.
      Hourly compensation rose in 26 of the 30 industries measured. 

2019 to 2021 Trends

Although 27 selected service-providing industries increased output from 2020 to 2021, not all these 
industries saw their output return to their pre-pandemic levels. Eight industries had levels of 
output that were lower in 2021 than in 2019, despite seeing positive output growth from 2020 to 2021. Of 
these eight industries, the two with the steepest average annual declines in output from 2019 to 2021 were 
air transportation (-17.6 percent) and line-haul railroads (-7.5 percent).

The 2019 to 2021 trends in hours worked show a similar result. Of the 18 selected service-providing 
industries that increased hours worked from 2020 to 2021, 7 of these had hours worked that were still 
below their pre-pandemic levels. Of these 7 industries, the 2 with the largest average annual decreases in 
hours worked from 2019 to 2021 were amusement parks and arcades (-14.6 percent) and gambling industries (-7.1 percent).

Long term productivity rose in 44 out of 58 service-providing industries. For most industries 
studied, this period extends from 1987 to 2020, the latest year for which data are available for all 
58 selected service-providing industries published on the BLS website. None of the rates in this 
section incorporate data for 2021.

Trends in Long Term Productivity

      Median long term productivity growth for all 58 industries was approximately 1.5 percent 
       per year.
      Output increased over the long term in 41 industries while hours worked increased in 31 
      Productivity increased in 43 of the 58 industries over the business cycle preceding the 
       pandemic: 2007 to 2019. During this period, 40 industries had increases in output and 27 
       experienced growth in hours worked. 

Additional Information

The productivity and costs measures in this release incorporate data from the Census Bureau's Service 
Annual Survey (November 2021). Accordingly, the labor productivity and output series for all industries 
have been revised for 2020 and earlier years.

The following NAICS codes are included in Tables 1 and 3 but not counted in the short-term count of 30 
selected industries because they are duplicate codes or aggregates for which full underlying coverage is 
published:  22, 221, 484, 4841, 4911, 4931, 511, 5111, 515, 5173, 54121, 722, and 72251.

The following NAICS codes are included in Table 2 but not counted in the long-term count of 58 
selected industries because they are duplicate codes or aggregates for which full underlying coverage is 
published:  22, 221, 484, 4841, 4842, 491, 493, 4931, 511, 5111, 515, 5151, 5173, 5412, 54121, 5615, 
6215, 6221,3, 7131, 72, 721, 7211, 722, 72251, 8121, and 8123.

Access productivity data at for

     Additional industries and sectors
     Detailed data series: indexes of productivity and related measures; rates of change; and levels of 
      industry employment, hours worked, nominal value of production, and labor compensation 
     Additional years and long-term data

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Last Modified Date: June 30, 2022