ERC Report

Understanding value added per employee in six UK sectors: The insiders’ view

The UK’s productivity puzzle has attracted much attention which has focused on the growing gap in productivity between the UK and its key international competitors. Often denominated in terms of ‘value added per employee’ or ‘value added per hour worked’ – both measures of labour productivity - the UK’s productivity slowdown has been longstanding but has been particularly notable during the post-recession period.

Statistical analyses have emphasised that ‘the vast majority of labour productivity growth weakness arises due to changes in productivity growth within detailed industry groups’. These variations in sectoral productivity trends since the recession provide the starting point and rationale for this report. What are the origins of these diverse trends? Are these the consequence of intra-firm issues linked to leadership and management or technology? Or, sector specific factors such as regulatory regimes or market competition?

Our approach is primarily qualitative and draws on the experience and knowledge of industry insiders in six sectors – business leaders, analysts, commentators and policy-makers. Detailed conversations were held with over 80 informants across six sectors between February and April 2019. This type of qualitative approach is of value to both reflect the wide range and variety of influences on value added and how these influences have and are changing.

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ERC