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The Early 21st Century U.S. Productivity Expansion is Still in Services

  • Barry P. Bosworth
  • Jack E. Triplett

Labour productivity in the U.S. non-farm business sector grew two and a half per cent per year during the 1995-2005 period, nearly double its growth rate over the previous two decades. Services sector labour productivity (LP) and multifactor productivity (MFP) grew more rapidly and substantially exceeded productivity accelerations in the goods sector. We show that the services sector accounted for three-quarters of U.S. MFP growth after 1995, and within services the contribution of MFP to LP growth exceeded the vaunted contribution of IT investment. We also find that the services sector has become even more important as the primary source of sustained productivity growth after 2000. In this study, we compute LP, MFP and contributions to growth accounts for 57 industries within the goods and services sectors, using the new NAICS-based data set. We also show that resource reallocations, which are a newly important factor in productivity analysis, have changed the relation between increases in industry productivity growth rates and aggregate and sector growth rates in surprising ways.

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Article provided by Centre for the Study of Living Standards in its journal International Productivity Monitor.

Volume (Year): 14 (2007)
Issue (Month): (Spring)
Pages: 3-19

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Handle: RePEc:sls:ipmsls:v:14:y:2007:1
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  1. James A. Kahn & Kevin Stiroh, 2002. "Productivity Growth: A New Era?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(2), pages 237-242, April.
  2. Kevin J. Stiroh, 2001. "Information technology and the U.S. productivity revival: what do the industry data say?," Staff Reports 115, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  3. Berndt, Ernst R & Wood, David O, 1975. "Technology, Prices, and the Derived Demand for Energy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 57(3), pages 259-68, August.
  4. Susanto Basu & Robert Inklaar & J. Christina Wang, 2008. "The value of risk: measuring the service output of U. S. commercial banks," Working Papers 08-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  5. Carol Corrado & John Haltiwanger & Dan Sichel, 2005. "Measuring Capital in the New Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number corr05-1, December.
  6. Susanto Basu & John Fernald, 2006. "Information and communications technology as a general-purpose technology: evidence from U.S industry data," Working Paper Series 2006-29, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  7. Thomas N. Hubbard, 2003. "Information, Decisions, and Productivity: On-Board Computers and Capacity Utilization in Trucking," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1328-1353, September.
  8. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Productivity, R&D, and the Data Constraint," NBER Chapters, in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 347-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Carol A. Corrado & Charles R. Hulten & Daniel E. Sichel, 2006. "Intangible Capital and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 11948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Brian C. Moyer & Marshall B. Reinsdorf & Robert E. Yuskavage, 2006. "Aggregation Issues in Integrating and Accelerating the BEA," NBER Chapters, in: A New Architecture for the U.S. National Accounts, pages 263-287 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Erik Brynjolfsson & Lorin M. Hitt, 2000. "Beyond Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business Performance," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 23-48, Fall.
  12. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald & Nicholas Oulton & Sylaja Srinivasan, 2004. "The Case of the Missing Productivity Growth, or Does Information Technology Explain Why Productivity Accelerated in the United States But Not in the United Kingdom?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 9-82 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Susanto Basu & John G. Fernald & Nicholas Oulton & Sylaja Srinivasan, 2003. "The Case of the Missing Productivity Growth: Or, Does Information technology explain why productivity accelerated in the United States but not the United Kingdom?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2021, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  14. Barry P. Bosworth & Jack E. Triplett, 2007. "Services Productivity in the United States: Griliches," NBER Chapters, in: Hard-to-Measure Goods and Services: Essays in Honor of Zvi Griliches, pages 413-447 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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