HR Strange But True!
February 25, 2004

We all know that HR is never dull, but sometimes it can get downright strange...

Putting some thought into burger flipping

The latest edition of the Economic Report of the President, that compendium of observations and statistics on the health of the U.S. economy, poses this question: Should fast-food restaurants continue to be counted as part of the service sector, or be reclassified as manufacturers?

The report doesn't answer its own question, but the White House apparently sees some advantage in making the change. Adding hamburger flipping to a sector of the economy that has been hemorrhaging jobs in recent years looks good in statistical reports, noted David Huether of the National Association of Manufacturers.

In an interview with The New York Times, Huether said the question to answer is this: "If you heat the hamburger up are you chemically transforming it?" For him, the answer is no.

Still, the presidential report points out that the current system for classifying jobs "is not straightforward."

The report notes that the Census Bureau industry classification system defines manufacturing as covering enterprises "engaged in the mechanical, physical or chemical transformation of materials, substances or components into new products."

"When a fast-food restaurant sells a hamburger ... is it providing a 'service' or is it combining inputs to 'manufacture' a product?" the report asks.

Stay tuned...

Source: The New York Times, via the Indianapolis Star

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