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Productivity in wholesale trade, retail trade, and food services and drinking places, 2011

August 31, 2012

From 2010 to 2011, labor productivity—defined as output per hour—rose in wholesale and retail trade and was unchanged in food services and drinking places. Productivity growth was lower in all three sectors in 2011 compared with 2010.

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Among the 20 largest wholesale trade, retail trade, and food services and drinking places industries, machinery and supplies wholesalers recorded the largest productivity increase (13.5 percent) while department stores had the largest productivity decline (-5.4 percent).

In 2011, labor productivity in wholesale trade rose 1.9 percent, as output grew 4.8 percent and hours increased 2.9 percent. Productivity grew 6.3 percent in durable goods, but fell 1.1 percent in nondurable goods. Productivity increased most rapidly in machinery and supplies wholesalers, where output rose more than in any other wholesale trade industry.

In retail trade, labor productivity grew 2.2 percent in 2011, as output increased 3.7 percent and hours rose 1.5 percent. Output per hour increased in 21 of the 27 detailed retail trade industries in 2011. The largest productivity increases were in florists (20.6 percent) and vending machine operators (18.7 percent), both of which recorded rapid declines in hours.

In food services and drinking places, labor productivity rose in three of the four detailed industries in this sector, but fell in limited-service eating places (-2.3 percent), where hours grew at a rate nearly double that of output.

These data are from the Productivity and Costs program. To learn more, see "Productivity and Costs by Industry: Wholesale Trade, Retail Trade, and Food Services and Drinking Places Industries, 2011" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL-12-1762.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Editor's Desk, Productivity in wholesale trade, retail trade, and food services and drinking places, 2011 on the Internet at (visited September 18, 2014).


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