Productivity Trends in the Mobile Homes Industry

By Olsen, John G. | Monthly Labor Review, May 1997 | Go to article overview

Productivity Trends in the Mobile Homes Industry


Olsen, John G., Monthly Labor Review


From 1977 to 1994, the industry experienced modest, long-term productivity growth reflecting wide fluctuations in demand and limited investment in new capital; however, output has grown significantly in the past few years, along with consumer demand

Declining demand for new housing, low ) capital expenditures per employee, and a largely inexperienced work force have contributed to only modest long-term productivity gains in the mobile homes industry.(1) A new measure of industry productivity from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that output per hour increased at an average annual rate of 0.6 percent between 1977 and 1994.

To put this figure in perspective, a comparison was made between the mobile homes industry and other manufacturing industries for which the Bureau measures productivity. The years 1979 and 1990 were chosen for comparison because these were peak years in the business cycle, as measured by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Between 1979 and 1990, productivity in the mobile homes industry rose 0.4 percent annually. More than 80 percent of the manufacturing industries examined showed higher rates of increase in productivity during that same period.(2)

The productivity indexes presented in this article represent the change over time in the ratio of the weighted output of a specified composite of products to the employee hours expended on that output. The output and employee hour series that underlie the productivity measures for the mobile homes industry are based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of the Census.

Trends in productivity

The industry's annual average 0.6-percent growth in productivity between 1977 and 1994 reflects a 0.8-percent rise in output and a smaller increase in employee hours, 0.2 percent. (See table 1.) Over this period, annual increases in productivity, ranging from 0.1 percent to 8.3 percent, occurred in 11 years. Productivity declined in the other 6 years, with the largest drop, l 1.6 percent, occurring from 1983 to 1984. In 1983, output per hour had reached its peak for the period. (See table 2.)

Table 1. Percent changes in productivity, output, hours, and all employees in the mobile homes Industry, SIC 2451, 1977-94

              Productivity
              (output per                    All
Years          employee         Output     employee       All
                hour)                       hours       employees

1977-78           5.4              8.1        2.6           5.1
1978-79           2.4             -1.1       -3.5          -3.5
1979-80           1.4            -20.7      -21.9         -19.7
1980-81           6.3              8.2        1.9           1.4
1981-82          -5.9            -11.8       -6.4          -7.5
1982-83           8.3             32.1       22.0          16.6
1983-84         -11.6            -10.3        1.6           4.5
1984-85           -.1             -2.5       -2.3          -2.8
1985-86            .1             -5.9       -6.1          -6.7
1986-87           5.9               .4       -5.2          -4.9
1987-88            .6             -1.7       -2.3          -2.9
1988-89          -1.8             -6.5       -4.7          -3.1
1989-90           2.4             -1.5       -3.9          -4.9
1990-91           1.3             -8.6       -9.8          -8.2
1991-92           -.1             13.8       13.8           8.5
1992-93           1.4             22.2       20.7          18.3
1993-94          -4.1             12.1       17.0          15.0

                 Average annual rates of change (percent)
1977-94            .6               .8         .2            -.2
1979-90            .4             -2.6       -2.9           -3.1
1990-94           -.4              9.2        9.7            7.9

Table 2. Indexes of productivity, output, hours, and all employees in the mobile homes industry, SIC 2451, 1977-94

              Productivity                   All           All
   Years       (output per      Output     employee     employees
                employee                     hours
                 hour)

1977             90. … 

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