Economic News Release

Productivity and Costs by Industry: Wholesale and Retail Trade, Food Services and Drinking Places News Release


For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Tuesday, August 30, 2011                                           USDL-11-1274

Technical Information:	(202) 691-5618  •  dipsweb@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/lpc 
Media Contact:	        (202) 691-5902  •  PressOffice@bls.gov


                   PRODUCTIVITY AND COSTS BY INDUSTRY: WHOLESALE TRADE, RETAIL TRADE, AND 
                             FOOD SERVICES AND DRINKING PLACES INDUSTRIES, 2010

Labor productivity - defined as output per hour – rose in wholesale trade, retail trade, and food 
services and drinking places, in 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Productivity 
increased as follows:

                             9.0 percent in wholesale trade,
                             3.9 percent in retail trade, and
                             1.9 percent in food services and drinking places.
      
Productivity was higher in all three sectors in 2010 compared to 2009. Output grew in all three sectors, 
after declining in each sector in 2009. Hours fell in wholesale trade and in food services and drinking 
places but rose in retail trade, after declining in each of the sectors in 2009. 

Productivity increased in 40 of the 50 detailed industries in 2010. (See table 1.) In most industries, 
growth resulted from increases in output that more than offset changes in hours. Output grew in 43 of 
the detailed industries and hours increased in 18. In the previous year, productivity rose in just over half 
of the detailed industries, as output grew in only five industries and hours declined in all but two.
Unit labor costs, which reflect the total labor costs required to produce a unit of output, also improved 
in 2010, declining in wholesale trade and in retail trade and growing less rapidly in food services and 
drinking places in 2010 compared to the previous year. Unit labor costs declined in 36 of the detailed 
industries in 2010, compared to 15 in 2009.

In wholesale trade, labor productivity rose 9.0 percent as output grew 7.2 percent and hours fell 1.7 
percent. Output per hour increased in 15 of the 19 detailed wholesale trade industries in 2010. Output 
grew in 16 industries and hours rose in five. Productivity rose most rapidly in motor vehicles and parts 
wholesalers and in electric goods wholesalers. Unit labor costs declined in 14 industries.

In retail trade, labor productivity grew 3.9 percent, as output and hours increased by 4.5 and 0.5 
percent, respectively. Output per hour rose in 23 of the 27 detailed retail trade industries in 2010. Output 
grew in 24 industries and hours increased in 11. The largest productivity increases were in florists, used 
merchandise stores, and lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores. Unit labor costs fell in 22 
industries.

In food services and drinking places, labor productivity increased 1.9 percent as output grew 1.3 
percent and hours declined 0.6 percent. Output per hour rose in two of the four detailed food services 
and drinking places industries in 2010. Output increased in three industries and hours grew in two. Unit 
labor costs rose in all four industries.

Over the longer term (1987 to 2010), average annual productivity growth in the wholesale trade, retail 
trade, and food services and drinking places sectors advanced more slowly than in 2010. From 1987 to 
2010, output per hour increased at the following average annual rates:

                             3.2 percent in wholesale trade,        	
                             2.9 percent in retail trade, and
      			     0.7 percent in food services and drinking places.	

The number of detailed industries registering productivity increases over the long term, however, was 
greater than the number of industries recording productivity increases in 2010.  Productivity increased in 
46 of the 50 detailed industries from 1987 to 2010. (See table 2.)


Year-to-year movements in industry productivity may be erratic, particularly in smaller industries. The 
annual measures based on sample data may differ from measures generated by a census of 
establishments in the industry. Annual changes in an industry’s output and use of labor may reflect 
cyclical changes in the economy as well as long-term trends. As a result, long-term productivity trends 
tend to be more reliable indicators of industry performance than year-to-year changes. 

Between 1987 and 2010, unit labor costs rose in wholesale trade and in food services and drinking 
places; unit labor costs in retail trade were unchanged. Unit labor costs fell in 16 of the detailed 
industries over the period. 

Industry labor productivity measures are updated as data become available.  Productivity measures for 
industries in other sectors can be accessed on the BLS Labor Productivity and Costs web site at 
www.bls.gov/lpc.


                                             Technical Note  

Labor Productivity: The industry labor productivity measures describe the relationship between 
industry output and the labor time involved in its production. They show the changes from period to 
period in the amount of goods and services produced per hour. Although the labor productivity measures 
relate output to hours of all persons in an industry, they do not measure the specific contribution of labor 
or any other factor of production. 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; 
managerial skill; and the characteristics and effort of the workforce.
      
Output: Industry output is measured as an annual-weighted index of the changes in the various products 
or services (in real terms) provided for sale outside the industry. Real industry output is derived by 
deflating nominal sales using BLS price indexes. 

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 primarily from BLS. 
      
Labor Hours: The primary source of industry employment and hours data is the BLS Current 
Employment Statistics (CES) survey. The CES provides monthly data on the number of total and 
nonsupervisory worker jobs held by wage and salary workers in nonfarm establishments, as well as data 
on the average weekly hours of nonsupervisory workers in those establishments. Data from the Current 
Population Survey (CPS) are also used to supplement the CES data. CPS data are used to estimate 
employment and hours of self-employed and unpaid family workers in each industry. Data from the 
CPS, together with the CES data, are also used to estimate the historical average weekly hours of 
supervisory workers for each industry. CES and CPS data are supplemented or further disaggregated for 
some industries using data from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), the 
Census Bureau, or other sources. Hours of all persons in an industry are treated as homogeneous and are 
directly aggregated. 

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 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 lower unit labor costs. 

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 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.
      
Revisions: The measures in this news release incorporate preliminary data from the Census Bureau’s 
Annual Wholesale Trade Report (February 2011), Monthly Wholesale Trade Survey (April 2011), 
Annual Retail Trade Survey (March 2011), and the Annual Revision of the Monthly Retail and Food 
Services: Sales and Inventories (April 2011), as well as data from the Census Bureau’s 2007 Economic 
Census. The labor productivity and output series for all industries have been revised for 2009 and earlier 
years as a result. This news release also incorporates the annual benchmark revision of the BLS Current 
Employment Statistics (CES) survey published in February 2011. All of the measures for 2010 in this 
release are preliminary and subject to revision.

Additional Information: The industries included in this release are classified according to the 2007 
NAICS. While the rates of change reported by BLS in this news release are rounded to one decimal 
place, all industry productivity percent changes are calculated using index numbers rounded to three 
decimal places.

Industry productivity and related indexes and rates of change can be accessed online by visiting the 
Labor Productivity and Costs web site at http://www.bls.gov/lpc/. Levels of industry employment, 
hours, labor compensation, value of production, and the implicit price deflator for output for these 
industries are available upon request by calling the Division of Industry Productivity Studies (202-691-
5618) or by sending a request by e-mail to dipsweb@bls.gov. Information in this report will be made 
available to sensory-impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5618; TDD message 
referral phone number: 1-800-877-8339.

To subscribe to the industry productivity program’s electronic notification services, send an e-mail to 
dipsnews@bls.gov with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.


Table 1.   Percent change in output per hour, output, hours, compensation, and unit labor costs, 2009-2010

                                                                                        Percent change, 2009-2010
                                                                  2010     ---------------------------------------------------
 NAICS                         Industry                        Employment   Output                        Labor     Unit labor
 code                                                         (thousands)  per hour   Output    Hours  compensation   costs

                           Wholesale Trade

42       Wholesale trade                                           5628       9.0       7.2      -1.7       1.3       -5.5

423          Durable goods                                         2807      14.4      11.5      -2.5       0.0      -10.3
4231             Motor vehicles and parts                           318      21.7      19.0      -2.2       0.5      -15.5
4232             Furniture and furnishings                           98      10.1       6.0      -3.7       0.6       -5.2
4233             Lumber and construction supplies                   192      11.1       3.1      -7.2      -6.1       -9.0
4234             Commercial equipment                               615      15.4      11.4      -3.4      -0.3      -10.5
4235             Metals and minerals                                111       8.3       4.9      -3.1      -1.2       -5.8
4236             Electric goods                                     320      20.4      16.9      -2.9       0.2      -14.3
4237             Hardware and plumbing                              222      11.6       6.3      -4.7      -3.0       -8.8
4238             Machinery and supplies                             621      11.1       8.7      -2.2       0.7       -7.4
4239             Miscellaneous durable goods                        308       0.0       4.3       4.3       5.8        1.4

424          Nondurable goods                                      2011       3.7       2.8      -0.8       1.3       -1.5
4241             Paper and paper products                           128      -2.6      -2.6       0.0      -2.0        0.6
4242             Druggists' goods                                   193       1.8      -2.3      -4.1      -2.8       -0.5
4243             Apparel and piece goods                            149       1.0       3.3       2.2      13.8       10.2
4244             Grocery and related products                       735       8.2       6.4      -1.7       1.6       -4.5
4245             Farm product raw materials                          81       9.5      12.4       2.6       2.9       -8.4
4246             Chemicals                                          122      13.8       7.6      -5.5      -0.2       -7.3
4247             Petroleum                                           97      -0.8       1.3       2.1      -2.0       -3.3
4248             Alcoholic beverages                                162      -6.8      -0.3       7.0       1.9        2.2
4249             Miscellaneous nondurable goods                     344       2.3       0.3      -2.0       1.5        1.2

425          Electronic markets and agents and brokers              810       9.2       8.5      -0.6       5.8       -2.5
4251             Electronic markets and agents and brokers          810       9.2       8.5      -0.6       5.8       -2.5

                             Retail Trade

44-45    Retail trade                                             15300       3.9       4.5       0.5       1.2       -3.2

441          Motor vehicle and parts dealers                       1685       4.4       4.6       0.2       3.6       -1.0
4411             Automobile dealers                                1040       6.6       5.5      -1.0       4.1       -1.3
4412             Other motor vehicle dealers                        133       7.1      -1.5      -8.1      -4.5       -3.1
4413             Auto parts, accessories, and tire stores           512      -3.1       1.5       4.8       4.8        3.3

442          Furniture and home furnishings stores                  481       5.2       6.0       0.7      -0.1       -5.7
4421             Furniture stores                                   233       3.9       6.8       2.8      -0.1       -6.5
4422             Home furnishings stores                            248       6.8       5.1      -1.6       0.0       -4.9

443          Electronics and appliance stores                       520       5.7      11.6       5.6       7.0       -4.2
4431             Electronics and appliance stores                   520       5.7      11.6       5.6       7.0       -4.2

444          Building material and garden supply stores            1168      10.6       6.9      -3.4      -2.8       -9.1
4441             Building material and supplies dealers            1024       9.9       6.8      -2.9      -3.1       -9.3
4442             Lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores      144      16.0       7.7      -7.2      -0.2       -7.3

445          Food and beverage stores                              2912       1.6       1.3      -0.3       0.2       -1.1
4451             Grocery stores                                    2522       1.2       1.2       0.0       0.3       -0.8
4452             Specialty food stores                              239      -0.5       0.4       0.9       3.7        3.3
4453             Beer, wine and liquor stores                       151      11.7       2.9      -7.9      -7.7      -10.3

446          Health and personal care stores                       1009       1.3       1.3       0.0       0.7       -0.6
4461             Health and personal care stores                   1009       1.3       1.3       0.0       0.7       -0.6

447          Gasoline stations                                      828       1.5       1.0      -0.5      -0.3       -1.3
4471             Gasoline stations                                  828       1.5       1.0      -0.5      -0.3       -1.3

448          Clothing and clothing accessories stores              1480       4.9       4.8      -0.1       1.4       -3.2
4481             Clothing stores                                   1114       3.2       5.1       1.8       1.5       -3.5
4482             Shoe stores                                        189       5.8       5.0      -0.8       5.7        0.7
4483             Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores         176      11.2       2.9      -7.5      -1.3       -4.1

451          Sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores          669       9.3       5.6      -3.4       2.8       -2.6
4511             Sporting goods and musical instrument stores       515       8.6       8.1      -0.4       6.2       -1.7
4512             Book, periodical, and music stores                 155      11.7      -1.9     -12.2      -6.8       -5.0

452          General merchandise stores                            2983       0.3       4.2       3.9       0.6       -3.4
4521             Department stores                                 1488      -2.8       1.2       4.2       1.2        0.0
4529             Other general merchandise stores                  1495       1.9       5.6       3.6       0.1       -5.2

453          Miscellaneous store retailers                          934       6.9       5.6      -1.2       1.5       -3.8
4531             Florists                                            93      17.9      10.8      -6.1       7.1       -3.3
4532             Office supplies, stationery and gift stores        335       4.0       0.2      -3.6       0.3        0.1
4533             Used merchandise stores                            174      16.5      19.3       2.4      -0.7      -16.8
4539             Other miscellaneous store retailers                332       5.4       5.8       0.4       2.4       -3.2

454          Nonstore retailers                                     633       8.3      12.2       3.5       0.9      -10.0
4541             Electronic shopping and mail-order houses          304      10.9      16.2       4.8       7.1       -7.8
4542             Vending machine operators                           52      11.5       5.8      -5.1     -11.5      -16.4
4543             Direct selling establishments                      277      -4.0      -0.1       4.0      -5.7       -5.6

                  Food Services and Drinking Places

722          Food services and drinking places                     9566       1.9       1.3      -0.6       3.0        1.6
7221             Full-service restaurants                          4500       2.8       1.9      -0.8       3.5        1.6
7222             Limited-service eating places                     4041       2.7       1.7      -0.9       2.5        0.7
7223             Special food services                              661      -4.9      -3.5       1.6       1.8        5.4
7224             Drinking places, alcoholic beverages               364      -1.0       1.1       2.1       4.0        2.9


Table 2.  Average annual percent change in output per hour, output, hours, compensation, and unit labor costs, 1987-2010

                                                                    Average annual percent change, 1987-2010
                                                              ----------------------------------------------------
 NAICS                         Industry                         Output                        Labor     Unit labor
 code                                                          per hour   Output    Hours  compensation   costs

                           Wholesale Trade

42       Wholesale trade                                          3.2       3.4       0.2       4.1       0.7

423          Durable goods                                        4.9       4.8      -0.1       3.9      -0.8
4231             Motor vehicles and parts                         3.3       2.7      -0.6       3.1       0.4
4232             Furniture and furnishings                        1.9       1.2      -0.7       3.5       2.3
4233             Lumber and construction supplies                 1.5       1.4       0.0       2.4       0.9
4234             Commercial equipment                            14.7      14.9       0.1       4.5      -9.1
4235             Metals and minerals                             -0.9      -1.3      -0.4       3.4       4.8
4236             Electric goods                                   8.5       7.8      -0.7       4.1      -3.4
4237             Hardware and plumbing                            1.6       1.9       0.3       4.0       2.1
4238             Machinery and supplies                           1.9       1.6      -0.3       3.7       2.1
4239             Miscellaneous durable goods                      0.8       1.6       0.8       4.8       3.1

424          Nondurable goods                                     1.5       1.6       0.0       4.3       2.8
4241             Paper and paper products                         1.3       0.3      -1.0       2.9       2.6
4242             Druggists' goods                                 3.9       5.3       1.3       8.7       3.3
4243             Apparel and piece goods                          2.5       2.1      -0.4       3.8       1.7
4244             Grocery and related products                     1.4       2.0       0.6       4.4       2.4
4245             Farm product raw materials                       2.1      -0.1      -2.1       4.0       4.1
4246             Chemicals                                        0.6       0.8       0.2       4.0       3.2
4247             Petroleum                                        2.5       0.3      -2.2       2.6       2.3
4248             Alcoholic beverages                              0.0       1.8       1.8       4.8       3.0
4249             Miscellaneous nondurable goods                   0.1      -0.3      -0.3       3.2       3.4

425          Electronic markets and agents and brokers            1.8       4.0       2.2       4.5       0.5
4251             Electronic markets and agents and brokers        1.8       4.0       2.2       4.5       0.5

                             Retail Trade

44-45    Retail trade                                             2.9       3.3       0.3       3.2       0.0

441          Motor vehicle and parts dealers                      1.9       2.1       0.2       3.0       0.9
4411             Automobile dealers                               2.0       2.0       0.1       2.9       0.8
4412             Other motor vehicle dealers                      2.5       2.9       0.4       4.0       1.1
4413             Auto parts, accessories, and tire stores         1.4       2.0       0.5       3.2       1.2

442          Furniture and home furnishings stores                3.8       3.3      -0.4       2.5      -0.8
4421             Furniture stores                                 3.1       2.8      -0.3       2.1      -0.7
4422             Home furnishings stores                          4.6       3.9      -0.6       2.9      -1.0

443          Electronics and appliance stores                    13.1      14.0       0.9       4.1      -8.7
4431             Electronics and appliance stores                13.1      14.0       0.9       4.1      -8.7

444          Building material and garden supply stores           2.8       3.5       0.7       3.3      -0.2
4441             Building material and supplies dealers           2.5       3.5       0.9       3.5       0.0
4442             Lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores    4.4       3.4      -1.0       2.1      -1.3

445          Food and beverage stores                             0.4       0.2      -0.2       3.0       2.8
4451             Grocery stores                                   0.2       0.1      -0.1       3.2       3.1
4452             Specialty food stores                            0.0      -0.6      -0.5       1.7       2.3
4453             Beer, wine and liquor stores                     2.4       0.8      -1.5       1.7       0.9

446          Health and personal care stores                      2.4       3.5       1.1       5.0       1.4
4461             Health and personal care stores                  2.4       3.5       1.1       5.0       1.4

447          Gasoline stations                                    2.1       1.2      -0.8       2.3       1.1
4471             Gasoline stations                                2.1       1.2      -0.8       2.3       1.1

448          Clothing and clothing accessories stores             4.6       4.1      -0.5       2.6      -1.3
4481             Clothing stores                                  4.9       4.7      -0.2       2.9      -1.7
4482             Shoe stores                                      3.3       2.2      -1.1       1.7      -0.5
4483             Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores       3.9       2.8      -1.0       2.4      -0.3

451          Sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores        4.2       4.1      -0.1       3.3      -0.8
4511             Sporting goods and musical instrument stores     4.9       5.1       0.3       3.7      -1.4
4512             Book, periodical, and music stores               2.6       1.6      -1.0       2.3       0.6

452          General merchandise stores                           3.3       5.0       1.7       3.7      -1.2
4521             Department stores                                0.6       1.7       1.1       2.4       0.7
4529             Other general merchandise stores                 6.3       8.8       2.3       5.4      -3.1

453          Miscellaneous store retailers                        3.8       3.5      -0.2       2.2      -1.3
4531             Florists                                         3.5       0.1      -3.4       0.3       0.2
4532             Office supplies, stationery and gift stores      5.9       5.0      -0.9       2.2      -2.6
4533             Used merchandise stores                          5.0       6.2       1.1       3.6      -2.4
4539             Other miscellaneous store retailers              1.4       2.5       1.1       2.3      -0.2

454          Nonstore retailers                                   8.7       8.9       0.2       3.5      -5.0
4541             Electronic shopping and mail-order houses       11.3      15.2       3.5       7.4      -6.7
4542             Vending machine operators                        0.8      -2.0      -2.8       0.4       2.4
4543             Direct selling establishments                    2.9       1.3      -1.5       1.0      -0.3

                  Food Services and Drinking Places

722          Food services and drinking places                    0.7       1.9       1.3       5.1       3.1
7221             Full-service restaurants                         0.7       2.0       1.3       5.9       3.8
7222             Limited-service eating places                    0.7       2.2       1.5       4.9       2.7
7223             Special food services                            1.1       2.1       1.0       3.5       1.3
7224             Drinking places, alcoholic beverages            -0.4      -0.7      -0.3       2.3       3.0

Last Modified Date: August 30, 2011
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