The Multifactor Productivity Problem


For today’s food for thought, I direct you to this column from Bloomberg: “Manfacturing’s Productivity Myth,” which takes issue with the claim that US Manufacturers have gotten more productive by arguing that this claim fails to take into account Multifactor Productivity. 

“The fact that durable goods multifactor productivity in 1987 was 69 and non-durables’ was 96 means not that durable-goods manufacturers were less productive than non-durables manufacturers in 1987 but that their productivity increased a lot more from then through the index year of 2009. Which I know is a little confusing, but the alternative — charting year-over-year changes in the productivity index — makes it harder to see trends.

So durable-goods manufacturing saw big multifactor-productivity gains in the 1990s that appear to have stalled out just over a decade ago, while non-durables productivity hasn’t really budged much over the past three decades. Non-durables are things such as food, clothes, chemicals, paper products and plastics.”

Read the whole thing.