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Bureau of Labor Statistics > Productivity > About > Questions & Answers

Questions and Answers


  1. How is productivity defined?
  2. Why is productivity measurement important?
  3. How is productivity measured by BLS?
  4. What is the most commonly used productivity measure?
  5. What is an index series?
  6. Why can't I duplicate the percent changes from the index numbers in your press release?
  7. When data are provided quarterly, is the percent change for the year equal to the average of the percent changes for the four quarters?
  8. What type of productivity research is done, how do I find it, and how can I be involved?

Timing and Revisions

  1. Why does the BLS revise the quarterly measures?
  2. What is the revision schedule for the quarterly labor productivity and costs measures?
  3. Why isn't Total factor productivity available quarterly?

Level of Detail

  1. Why can't I find a productivity measure for the total economy?
  2. How do the total factor productivity measures for private business and private nonfarm business differ from the measures for the manufacturing sector and manufacturing industries?
  3. Are sector or industry productivity measures available for separate regions, states, and cities in the United States?
  4. Does the BLS measure productivity for particular groups, such as white-collar workers?
  5. Do you have any data regarding performance and productivity for people teleworking or working remotely?


  1. How are labor hours calculated?
  2. How are hours measured for state labor productivity?
  3. What are "unit labor costs"?
  4. How is capital input derived for use in the Total factor productivity measures?
  5. What is a rental price?
  6. What is included in compensation?
  7. What are the differences between the quarterly hourly compensation measures and the Employment Cost Index (ECI)?


  1. Why does the output per hour series in the major sector Total factor productivity dataset differ from the output per hour series in the quarterly labor productivity dataset?
  2. How are changes in output measured for specific industries?
  3. Is output in your output per hour measure for the business sector equal to Gross Domestic Product (GDP)?
  4. Does outsourcing and offshoring of intermediate production inflate the productivity measures?
  5. For tangible products such as tons of steel, developing an output index series and ultimately a productivity series seems not to be too difficult. How are measures developed for those industries where data on quantities produced are not available? How do you, for example, measure the output of barbershops?
  6. How is output measured for state labor productivity measures?