Last Modified Date: September 02, 2021
Hours worked data for the labor productivity and cost measures include hours worked for all
persons working in the sector—wage and salary workers, the self-employed and unpaid family
workers. The primary source of hours and employment data is the BLS Current Employment
Statistics (CES) program, which provides monthly survey data on the number of jobs held by
wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments, counting a person who is employed by two
or more establishments at each place of employment. The CES also provides average weekly
paid hours of production and nonsupervisory workers in these establishments. Weekly paid hours
are adjusted to hours worked using data from the National Compensation Survey (NCS) for 1996
forward and data from the BLS Hours at Work survey, conducted for this purpose, prior to 1990.
Between 1990 and 1995, weekly paid hours are adjusted to hours at work using a combination of
NCS and Hours at Work survey data. The Office of Productivity and Technology estimates
average weekly hours at work for nonproduction and supervisory workers using information
from the Current Population Survey (CPS), the CES, and the NCS.
Data from the CPS are used to estimate hours worked for farm labor, nonfarm proprietors, and
nonfarm unpaid family workers. Using CPS information on employment and hours worked at
primary jobs and all other jobs, separately, the BLS productivity measures assign all hours
worked to the appropriate industrial sector. Hours for government enterprises are derived from
the CPS, the CES, and the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) prepared by the
Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the Department of Commerce.
Detailed hours data are presented in the table “Hours Worked in Total U.S. Economy and
Subsectors” on the BLS website (www.bls.gov/lpc/special_requests/us_total_hrs_emp.xlsx).
Business sector output is a chain-type, current-weighted index constructed after excluding from
gross domestic product (GDP) the following outputs: general government, nonprofit institutions,
and private households (including owner-occupied housing). Corresponding exclusions also are
made in labor hours worked. Business output accounted for about 75 percent of the value of
GDP in 2020. Nonfarm business, which excludes farming, accounted for about 74 percent of
GDP in 2020.
Annual indexes for manufacturing and its durable and nondurable goods components are
constructed by deflating current-dollar industry value of production data from the U.S. Bureau of
the Census with deflators from the BLS. These deflators are based on data from the BLS
Producer Price Index program and other sources. The industry shipments are aggregated using
annual weights, and intrasector transactions are removed. Quarterly manufacturing output
measures are based on the indexes of industrial production prepared monthly by the Board of
Governors of the Federal Reserve System, adjusted to be consistent with annual indexes of
manufacturing sector output prepared by BLS.
Nonfinancial corporate output is a chain-type, current-weighted index calculated on the basis of
the costs incurred and the incomes earned from production. The output measure excludes the
following outputs from GDP: general government; nonprofit institutions; private households;
unincorporated business; and those corporations classified as offices of bank holding companies,
offices of other holding companies, or offices in the finance and insurance sector. Nonfinancial
corporations accounted for about 49 percent of the value of GDP in 2020.
The measure describes the relationship between real output and the labor time involved in its
production. Measures of labor productivity growth show the changes from period to period in the
amount of goods and services produced per hour worked. They reflect the joint effects of many
influences, including changes in technology; capital investment; level of output; utilization of
capacity, energy, and materials; the organization of production; managerial skill; and the
characteristics and effort of the work force.
The measure includes accrued wages and salaries, supplements, employer contributions to
employee benefit plans, and taxes. Estimates of labor compensation by major sector, required for
measures of hourly compensation and unit labor costs, are based primarily on employee
compensation data from the NIPA, prepared by the BEA. The compensation of employees in
general government, nonprofit institutions and private households are subtracted from
compensation of employees in domestic industries to derive employee compensation for the
business sector. The labor compensation of proprietors cannot be explicitly identified and must
be estimated. This is done by assuming that proprietors have the same hourly compensation as
employees in the same sector. The quarterly labor productivity and cost measures do not contain
estimates of compensation for unpaid family workers.
Unit Labor Costs
These measures describe the relationship between compensation per hour and labor productivity,
or real output per hour, and can be used as an indicator of inflationary pressure on producers.
Increases in hourly compensation increase unit labor costs; labor productivity increases offset
compensation increases and lower unit labor costs.
Presentation of the data
The quarterly data in this release are presented in three ways: as percent changes from the
previous quarter presented at a compound annual rate, as percent changes from the
corresponding quarter of the previous year, and as index number series where 2012=100. Annual
data are presented both as index number series and percent changes from the previous year.
The index numbers and rates of change reported in the productivity and costs news release are
rounded to one decimal place. All percent changes in this release and on the BLS web site are
calculated using index numbers to three decimal places. A complete historical series of these
index numbers are available at the BLS web site, www.bls.gov/data/home.htm, or by contacting
the BLS Division of Major Sector Productivity (Telephone 202-691-5606 or email
For a more detailed explanation of methodology see "Technical Information About the Major
Sector Productivity and Costs Methods" at www.bls.gov/lpc/lpcmethods.pdf.
Information in this release will be made available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request.
Voice phone: 202-691-5200; Federal Relay Service number: 1-800-877-8339.