Economic News Release

Productivity and Costs by Industry: Manufacturing Industries, 2012

For release 10:00 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, March 27, 2014                                      USDL-14-0492

Technical information:	(202) 691-5618  •  • 
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902  •

                        MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES, 2012

Labor productivity -- defined as output per hour -- rose in 54 percent of the detailed manufacturing 
industries covered in 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This was down from 68 
percent in 2011. Unit labor costs, which reflect the total labor costs required to produce a unit of output, 
declined in 39 percent of the industries in 2012 compared to 49 percent in 2011. More than half of 
industries with productivity increases posted declines in unit labor costs.

Output and hours rose in more industries in 2012 than in the previous year. (See table 1.) 
Output rose in 2012 in 40 of 57 NAICS 4-digit manufacturing industries for which data were available, 
up from 37 industries in 2011. Hours increased in even more industries, 41 compared to 32 in 2011.  
Hours rose in more industries in 2012 than in any year since 1997. 

The latest industry productivity data for manufacturing industries and for industries in other sectors are 
available on the BLS website at

*                             Industry Productivity Hours Series Changes                             *
*                                                                                                    *
* Beginning with this news release, labor hours for manufacturing industries represent hours worked. *  
* See Technical Note in this news release for more information about how hours worked are derived.   *

During the 1987-2012 period, productivity rose in all but 1 industry, with productivity growth in most 
industries averaging between 0.1 and 4.0 percent per year. Productivity also increased in a majority of 
industries between 2007 and 2012, despite the fact that the period encompassed a severe recession. However, 
fewer industries had productivity growth greater than 2 percent per year, and productivity declined in 18 
industries. In the most recent year, rates of productivity change were more evenly distributed than in either 
of the longer time periods.

From 1987 to 2012, productivity growth was driven by rising output in many industries, while hours increased 
in very few. Productivity increased in fewer industries from 2007 to 2012, as output and hours rose in 
relatively few industries. In most industries, productivity advanced as output was produced with fewer hours. 
In contrast, output and hours rose in more industries in 2012 as the economic recovery continued. Increases 
in hours more than offset increases in output in a number of industries, with the result that productivity 
rose in fewer industries in 2012 than in the other two periods.

3-Digit NAICS Industries

Labor productivity increased in 13 of the 21 NAICS 3-digit manufacturing industries in 2012, as output 
increased in 17 industries and hours fell in 5 industries. Productivity rose fastest in transportation
equipment, where output increased much faster than hours. Of the 21 industries, 10 registered greater
productivity growth, or smaller productivity declines, than in the previous year. 

Unit labor costs fell in 9 of the 21 industries. Unit labor costs declined more frequently in industries 
where productivity rose, as productivity gains offset increases in hourly compensation. Unit labor costs 
fell in 8 of the 13 industries where productivity rose; in the 8 industries where productivity fell, 7 
recorded an increase in unit labor costs.

This release updates productivity measures to 2012 for all 21 NAICS 3-digit and for 57 of the 86 NAICS 
4-digit manufacturing industries. Data from the 2012 Economic Census were not available at the time of 
this release. As a result, BLS developed output estimates for 2012 for the industries covered in this 
release based on trends in industrial production from the Federal Reserve Board and on trends from the 
manufacturers’ shipments, inventories, and orders (M3) survey from the Census Bureau, along with data 
on price changes from BLS.  Labor compensation in 2012 is based on trends in industry wages from the 
BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). The hours measures in this news release 
incorporate the annual benchmark revision of the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey 
published in February 2014. For the first time, labor hours in this news release represent hours at work. 
Data on hours paid from the CES were adjusted using industry hours worked/hours paid ratios derived 
from National Compensation Survey (NCS) data.  Data in this release are preliminary and subject to 
revision. Measures for 2012 for all 3-digit and 4-digit industries will be updated in a future release.

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

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.

More detailed data for industries covered in this release and for additional industries are available on 
the BLS Labor Productivity and Costs website at Data include productivity and related 
indexes; rates of change; and levels of industry employment, hours, nominal value of production, and 
labor compensation. Additional information can be obtained by calling the Division of Industry 
Productivity Studies (202-691-5618) or by sending a request by e-mail to 
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.

Customers can subscribe to the industry productivity program’s news releases on the BLS website at 

The PDF version of the news release

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Last Modified Date: March 27, 2014
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