Labor Productivity and Costs

Industry Employment and Hours

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes indexes of annual hours and employment by industry that reflect the total labor input used in producing industry output during the year. Indexes are provided for all 3- and 4-digit NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) industries except government, as well as for other NAICS industries for which industry productivity measures are published. Indexes for most industries are available from 1987 forward.

Industry labor input measures are developed mainly from data collected by BLS. Data from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, a monthly establishment survey conducted by BLS, are supplemented with data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly household survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for BLS. Data on employment and average weekly hours are used to construct measures of total annual hours for various categories of workers. Employment and hours of all persons include those of paid employees, the self-employed (partners and proprietors), and unpaid family workers. Annual estimates for each category of worker are calculated separately and then summed for each industry.

The primary source of data on paid employees is the CES survey. The survey collects monthly data on total paid employment by industry, as well as data on employment and average weekly hours for production workers in goods-producing industries and for nonsupervisory workers in service-providing industries. Jobs—not persons—are counted, so multiple jobholders are counted more than once. Persons are considered employed if they receive pay for any part of the specified pay period. (See “Current Employment Statistics - CES (National),” on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ces.) Total annual hours are estimated separately for each class of worker as the product of employment, average weekly hours, and the number of paid weeks per year. The industry hours series developed from the CES survey represents hours paid, not hours worked, since data used to estimate relationships between hours at work and hours paid are available only at the 2- or 3-digit level.

Although the CES program has begun collecting information on the paid hours of all employees, it historically has provided time series of average weekly hours for production and nonsupervisory workers only. The industry productivity program uses data from the CPS, together with the CES data, to derive average weekly hours for nonproduction and supervisory workers back to 1987. (See “Construction of Average Weekly Hours for Supervisory and Nonproduction Wage and Salary Workers in Detailed Industries,” on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/lpc/iprswawhtechnote.pdf.)

Because CES data cover only wage and salary employees, these data are supplemented with data from the CPS. (See “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey,” on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/cps.) CPS data are used to estimate the number of self-employed workers (partners and proprietors) and of unpaid family workers, as well as their hours. The CPS counts persons, not jobs, but separate statistics by industry and class of worker are available for both primary and secondary jobs. The data for primary and secondary jobs are processed separately in order to accurately assign the employment and hours in secondary jobs to the proper industry and class of worker. CPS data are available for many 3- and 4-digit NAICS industries. Occasionally, Census Bureau nonemployer or small-firm data are used together with CPS data to derive estimates for more detailed industries.

Although the labor input measures for most industries reflect the data sources and methods discussed in the preceding paragraphs, measures for some industries were constructed from alternative data sources. Estimates of employment and hours for industries in the farm sector are based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; estimates here reflect revisions to the series released in September 2009, made as a result of changes in source data. Measures for industries in the nonfarm agriculture sector are based primarily on data from the CPS together with data from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). Estimates for air transportation are based on data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Employment data for the postal service industry are from the CES survey; estimates of hours for this industry, however, are from the U.S. Postal Service. Estimates of paid employees in private households are from the QCEW. Estimates of employment and hours for the government sector, with the exception of the U.S. Postal Service, are based on data from the CES survey; estimates published here supersede the government measures released in September 2009, and they reflect revisions that improve consistency with industry definitions used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The employment and hours measures reflect the data sources and methods underlying the labor input series used for the industry productivity and cost measures. Industries correspond to the 2007 NAICS industry categories. The revised and updated data will be used in forthcoming updates of the industry productivity and cost measures.

Indexes of employment and hours of all persons by industry can be accessed electronically by visiting the Labor Productivity and Costs Web site: http://www.bls.gov/lpc. Levels of annual employment and hours, as well as nominal values of production by industry and the implicit price deflators for output, also are available upon request by calling the Division of Industry Productivity Studies (202-691-5618) or by sending an e-mail to dipsweb@bls.gov.

Last Modified Date: October 19, 2010

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