Downtime in American Manufacturing Industry: 1870 and 1880
Using unpublished manuscript census data for 1869/70 and 1879/80, we estimate that manufacturing establishments in the mid/late nineteenth century averaged about 10 months of fulltime operation per year; somewhat longer in 1880 fractionally less in 1870. Months of operation, however, varied greatly by industry and systematically by region and size of establishment, with establishments in the South working fewer months and larger establishments working more months. This evidence in turn has broad implications for efforts to measure productivity and for our interpretation of levels and trends in manufacturing profitability.
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