Retail trade has experienced dramatic changes over the past several decades in the United States, with changes in the types of outlets where goods are sold, the nature of the transactions that provide goods to consumers, and the structure of retail operations behind the scenes. The recent changes include the rise of warehouse stores and e-commerce and the further growth of imports and large retail chains. These changes highlight and typify many aspects of the broader evolution of the economy as a whole in recent years - with the growing role of large firms and information technology - while taking place in a sector that directly serves the vast majority of the American population and provides substantial employment.
Despite the everyday experience of these dramatic changes in retail, there is concern that the most transformational aspects of those changes may not be captured well by the economic indicators about the sector. In order to develop appropriate economic policies, we need to be able to capture more detailed data, including data about changes to productivity.
At the request of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this report evaluates changes in the retail trade sector, assesses measures of employment and labor productivity for the sector, and recommends a new satellite account that could measure retail-related employment and labor productivity in ways that would better capture the transformation.
Table of Contents
|2 Transformation of the Retail Sector||10-20|
|3 Measuring Retail Employment and Labor Productivity||21-56|
|4 Toward a Retail Satellite Account||57-68|
|5 Recommendations for a Retail Satellite Account||69-79|
|Appendix A: Agenda for the Panel's Workshop||84-85|
|Appendix B: Retail Output, Hours and Labor Productivity, 1997-2018||86-87|
|Appendix C: Biographical Sketches of Panel Members||88-91|
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