Skip to main content
Large metro area productivity
Brookings Now

Charts of the Week: Productivity

In this edition of Charts of the Week, a focus on some research about drivers of labor and industrial productivity.

PRODUCTIVITY IN INDUSTRIES INCREASES WITH TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION

Mark Muro’s research shows that sectors characterized as “non-advanced” have struggled to maintain high-performance productivity outputs. He notes that “advanced industries have steadily increased their productivity by developing and applying technological, organizational, and human capital gains (often through ‘digitization’).”

Industry productivity, 1980-2015

LARGE METRO AREAS HAVE A PRODUCTIVITY ADVANTAGE

Discussing the impact of location on U.S. productivity trends, Joseph Parilla and Mark Muro write that “Overall, the nation’s largest cities and regions tend to be the nation’s most productive areas.” The authors explain that regions tend to differ based on natural resources, industrial structures, the quality of local workforces, infrastructure, and technological capabilities, where productive industries tend to amass in resource hotspots like urban centers.

Large metro area productivity

INVESTMENT IN DIGITAL SKILLS LEADS TO INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY

Examining why productivity levels were higher in the previous decade, Scott Andes and Jessica A. Lee noted that “Between the mid-1990s and 2000s, increasing use of IT helped make labor productivity grow quickly.” After this period of time, the authors explain that a lack in investment in workers’ acquisition of more advanced digital skills led to “labor’s share of productivity growth to decline by 5 percent over the last decade.”

Annual labor productivity growth, 1996-2015

Mimi Cottingham contributed to this post.

Author

Get daily updates from Brookings