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Improving estimates of hours worked for U.S. productivity measurement, Monthly Labor Review

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will introduce a new method for estimating hours worked for its major-sector productivity measures with its November 2022 Productivity and Costs news release. The new method uses the all-employee hours data from the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey and is a marked improvement over the current method, which was introduced in 2004 and uses CES production-employee hours data. In this article, we describe the current method and discuss the advantages of using the all-employee hours series. We compare the new method with the current method and find that both generate about the same long-run productivity growth for the nonfarm business sector over the 2006–21 period. However, we find notable differences in quarter-to-quarter hours growth rates, which result in the two series telling slightly different stories about the timing of productivity growth. We also compare the differences in the two hours methods for major industry groups.


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