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Productivity and Cost Chart

How productivity, output, labor costs and compensation are changing.

May 3, 2004
Related Topics: Total Quality Management, Behavioral Training, Strategic Planning

Productivity and costs: Revised 2003 annual averages
(Seasonally adjusted annual rates)

Productivity in the United States is growing at its fastest continuous two-year pace since 1949-51, according to recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For businesses, the 4.7 percent average annual rate for 2001-2003 is predicated on a 4.9 percent growth in 2001-2002 and a 4.5 percent increase last year. Last year, output grew by 3.7 percent while companies scaled back on hours by 0.8 percent to produce the end result of 4.5 percent. With hourly compensation lagging at a 3.3 percent increase, unit labor costs contracted by 1.1 percent, placing American businesses in better shape to compete in the global economy.

Percent change from previous year





Hourly compensation

Real hourly compensation

Unit labor costs


4.5 3.7 -0.8 3.3 1.0 -1.1

Nonfarm business

4.4 3.7 -0.7 3.2 0.9 -1.2


5.1 0.1 -4.8 5.5 3.2 .04


7.7 2.0 -5.3 5.4 3.1 -2.1


1.9 -2.2 -4.0 5.9 3.5 3.9

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Revised fourth quarter seasonally-adjusted annual rates of productivity change as measured by output per hour of all persons.

Workforce Management, May 2004, p. 42 -- Subscribe Now!

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