What is labor productivity? We go to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics for the answer to that question: “Labor productivity describes the relationship between real output and the labor hours involved in its production.” Given the pandemic and the turmoil in the world — and economies — in 2020, one might intuitively expect labor statistics to have shown a decline in productivity. Instead, according to the BLS, “Labor productivity in the private nonfarm sector rose in 45 states and the District of Columbia in 2020. This is the highest number of states with positive productivity growth since 2010.”
At the same time, output decreased nationwide, and hours worked decreased in every state except Idaho. Idaho was also the only state with an increase in hours (1.1%). The strongest labor productivity growth rate was in Hawaii (8.5%), followed by Nevada (8%) and Alaska (6.3%). New Jersey was also among the states with fast growth in labor productivity, at 5.4%.