The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has introduced new measures of productivity growth for four industries in construction: single-family residential construction; multifamily residential construction; highways, roads, and bridges construction; and industrial construction. Official measures of productivity growth in construction have not been previously published. Explained in a recent article introducing the new measures:
…the main difficulty is that buildings differ widely in their characteristics and features. Similarly, the nature of the underlying terrain varies widely among construction projects. Consequently, economists, both in general and within the BLS productivity program, have found it exceptionally difficult to develop reliable output price deflators to convert observed revenues into meaningful measures of output growth over time. Good output price deflators are therefore the key to more accurate measures of productivity growth in construction.
BLS states that they find productivity growth is positive and relatively strong in three of the four industries even though earlier studies found stagnancy or decline in the overall construction sector. “The present evidence is more reliable because the output price deflators are more accurate in the four industries considered.”
According to BLS, the construction community has requested estimates of productivity growth in construction to be published.