Total factor productivity (TFP) has led changes in agricultural output growth despite diminishing contributions from labor

Vertical bar chart showing contributions to output annual growth from Labor, Capital, Intermediate goods and Total Factor Productivity from 1948 to 2017.

Total U.S. farm output almost tripled from 1948 to 2017, though total labor hours in the farm sector declined more than 80 percent. The quality of agricultural labor, as measured by educational attainment and other labor attributes, increased over this time. Economic Research Service researchers determined that for farm labor, the growth in human capital attributes, such as education, mitigated the negative effects from a decline in farm labor hours worked.

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