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Dispersion in Dispersion: Measuring Establishment-Level Differences in Productivity

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Listed:
  • Cindy Cunningham
  • Lucia Foster
  • Cheryl Grim
  • John Haltiwanger
  • Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia
  • Jay Stewart
  • Zoltan Wolf

Abstract

We describe new experimental productivity statistics, Dispersion Statistics on Productivity (DiSP), jointly developed and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Census Bureau. Productivity measures are critical for understanding economic performance. Official BLS productivity statistics, which are available for major sectors and detailed industries, provide information on the sources of aggregate productivity growth. A large body of research shows that within-industry variation in productivity provides important insights into productivity dynamics. This research reveals large and persistent productivity differences across businesses even within narrowly defined industries. These differences vary across industries and over time and are related to productivity-enhancing reallocation. Dispersion in productivity across businesses can provide information about the nature of competition and frictions within sectors, and about the sources of rising wage inequality across businesses. Because there were no official statistics providing this level of detail, BLS and the Census Bureau partnered to create measures of within-industry productivity dispersion. These measures complement official BLS aggregate and industry-level productivity growth statistics and thereby improve our understanding of the rich productivity dynamics in the U.S. economy. The underlying microdata for these measures are available for use by qualified researchers on approved projects in the Federal Statistical Research Data Center (FSRDC) network. These new statistics confirm the presence of large productivity differences and we hope that these new data products will encourage further research into understanding these differences.

Suggested Citation

  • Cindy Cunningham & Lucia Foster & Cheryl Grim & John Haltiwanger & Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia & Jay Stewart & Zoltan Wolf, 2018. "Dispersion in Dispersion: Measuring Establishment-Level Differences in Productivity," Working Papers 18-25, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:18-25
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    Cited by:

    1. Nicholas Bloom & Scott W. Ohlmacher & Cristina J. Tello-Trillo & Melanie Wallskog, 2021. "Pay, Productivity and Management," NBER Working Papers 29377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Lucia Foster & Cheryl Grim & John C. Haltiwanger & Zoltan Wolf, 2019. "Innovation, Productivity Dispersion, and Productivity Growth," NBER Chapters, in: Measuring and Accounting for Innovation in the Twenty-First Century, pages 103-136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Benjamin Schoefer & Oren Ziv, 2021. "Productivity, Place, and Plants," NBER Working Papers 28772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Yang, Jangho & Heinrich, Torsten & Winkler, Julian & Lafond, François & Koutroumpis, Pantelis & Farmer, J. Doyne, 2019. "Measuring productivity dispersion: a parametric approach using the Lévy alpha-stable distribution," MPRA Paper 96474, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Gonzales-Rocha, Erick & Mendez-Guerra, Carlos, 2018. "Increasing productivity dispersion: Evidence from light manufacturing in Brazil," MPRA Paper 88478, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Evguenia Bessonova & Anna Tsvetkova, 2019. "Productivity convergence trends within Russian industries: firm-level evidence," Bank of Russia Working Paper Series wps51, Bank of Russia.
    7. Bessonova, E. & Tsvetkova, A., 2020. "Productivity growth and inefficient firms' exit from the market," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, vol. 48(4), pages 185-196.
    8. Yang, Jangho & Heinrich, Torsten & Winkler, Julian & Lafond, François & Koutroumpis, Pantelis & Farmer, J. Doyne, 2019. "Measuring productivity dispersion: a parametric approach using the Lévy alpha-stable distribution," MPRA Paper 96474, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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