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Labor productivity up in 13 of the 16 trade and food service industries in 2018

July 30, 2019

Labor productivity increased in 13 of the 16 wholesale trade, retail trade, and food services and drinking places industries studied in 2018. Labor productivity increased 11.5 percent in nonstore retailers, which also had a 9.8-percent increase in output (the largest increase among these industries) combined with a 1.5-percent decrease in hours worked.

Percent change in labor productivity, output, and hours worked in selected wholesale trade, retail trade, and food services and drinking places industries, 2018
Industry Labor productivity  Output  Hours worked

Nonstore retailers

11.5% 9.8% -1.5%

Electronics and appliance stores

8.8 7.0 -1.7

Electronic markets and agents and brokers

5.2 2.6 -2.4

Clothing and clothing accessories stores

4.3 5.6 1.2

Sports, hobby, music instruments, book stores

4.1 -3.2 -7.0

Merchant wholesalers, durable goods

3.6 5.1 1.4

Food and beverage stores

3.1 3.1 0.0

Miscellaneous store retailers

3.1 3.5 0.4

Health and personal care stores

2.4 2.2 -0.2

General merchandise stores

2.2 3.0 0.9

Motor vehicle and parts dealers

2.2 2.2 0.0

Food services and drinking places

1.6 3.6 2.0

Furniture and home furnishings stores

1.3 3.0 1.7

Building material and garden supply stores

-0.6 0.8 1.5

Merchant wholesalers, nondurable goods

-1.3 -1.0 0.3

Gasoline stations

-1.6 0.5 2.1

Four other industries had labor productivity of at least 4.0 percent during 2018: electronics and appliance stores; electronic markets and agents and brokers; clothing and clothing accessories stores; and sports, hobby, music instruments, book stores.

Among the three industries with productivity declines, gasoline stations experienced the largest drop (−1.6 percent), which resulted from a 0.5-percent increase in output combined with a 2.1-percent increase in hours worked.

Changes in hours worked in wholesale trade, retail trade, and food services and drinking places industries ranged from −7.0 percent in sports, hobby, music instruments, book stores to +2.1 percent in gasoline stations.

By definition, labor productivity increases when the change in output is larger than the change in hours worked. As shown in the chart, industries with markers for output to the right of their markers for hours worked had productivity increases.

These data are from the Labor Productivity and Costs program. Data are preliminary and may be revised. To learn more, see "Productivity and Costs by Industry: Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, and Food Services and Drinking Places Industries — 2018."

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Labor productivity up in 13 of the 16 trade and food service industries in 2018 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2019/labor-productivity-up-in-13-of-the-16-trade-and-food-service-industries-in-2018.htm (visited November 19, 2019).

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