Labor Cost Utilization Ratios

Direct And Indirect Labor Costs - Complete Controller

What is the Utilization Ratio?

The utilization rate is an essential ratio companies can use to charge their clients. The ratios are used to maximize the productivity time for employees. It can reflect the billing effectiveness and the company’s overall productivity. Two different bookkeeping methods exist for calculating indirect and direct labor expense utilization ratios.

Cubicle to Cloud virtual businessMethod One

The first method calculates the total billable hours divided by the number of hours recorded in a particular period. For example, if the total hours are 60 but the hours billable are 30, then the utilization rate would be 30/60 = 50%. Using this utilization ratio, if the company is willing to cease recording its non-billable time, the ratio will always be equal to 100%. Easy enough?

Method Two

The second method for calculating the labor utilization rate uses the total billable hours divided by a fixed number of hours each week. An example will help elaborate and explain this formula. If there are 22 billable hours recorded in a predetermined 40 hours per week, then the utilization ratio will be calculated as 22/40 = 55%.

Why are Labor Utilization Ratios Important?

Company leaders rely on utilization ratios to significantly identify how much the company’s workforce is currently employed and productive. It provides how the current workforce is performing and the required performance from current employees. If the ratio indicates an overproduction, the company must hire more people to improve and balance productivity based on utilization rates.ADP. Payroll – HR – Benefits

Direct Labor Utilization

A company’s payroll is considered the most significant organizational expense. Companies want to make sure that their payroll costs are generating sufficient income. The direct labor utilization ratio indicates how much a company spends each year on direct labor.

The remainder of payroll-associated costs are considered indirect labor costs. Examples of indirect labor costs are:

  • Amount spent on training employees
  • Administrative expenses
  • Marketing expenses
  • Paid vacations
  • Taxes

How to Calculate Direct Labor Utilization Ratio

The calculation needed for the direct labor utilization ratio includes dividing the total payroll amount associated with direct labor by the total payroll cost for that specific period, giving the direct utilization ratio. For example, suppose your company is spending $4,000 on the payroll for a specific pay period and pays an additional $3,000 in direct labor expenses. In that case, the utilization ratio for direct labor is 75%. (3,000/4,000 = 75%)Download A Free Financial Toolkit

On average, the direct labor utilization ratio must be around 65%. A value higher than 65% will indicate that the company is utilizing its labor force efficiently. Companies with fewer paid vacations and paid training will have a lower utilization cost.

Indirect Labor Utilization

Overhead costs are also called indirect labor costs. Labor overhead costs are directly associated with the different materials used for direct labor. Calculating indirect labor utilization is different, and here’s what we need:

  • The number of hours an employee has worked: if the employee worked for 52 weeks per year * 40 hours per week, they worked for almost 2,080 hours.
  • Deduct the total time spent on holidays per year: 45 days or 360 hours (including sick leaves, public holidays, training, and seminars) 360 – 2,080 =1,720 hours.

Hence, the 1,720 hours are our total hours spent by one employee as indirect labor utilization.


Labor costs can be costly for any business, so the calculations of labor costs are essential to ensure that the company’s accounting is accurate. Calculating labor costs through these methods will ensure your company has accurate accounting and bookkeeping information. A good accountant or bookkeeper can accurately calculate labor costs if you hire a professional to assist with accounting issues.

CorpNet. Start A New Business NowAbout Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual bookkeeping, providing service to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud platform where their QuickBooks™️ file, critical financial documents, and back-office tools are hosted in an efficient SSO environment. Complete Controller’s team of certified US-based accounting professionals provide bookkeeping, record storage, performance reporting, and controller services including training, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, process and controls advisement, and bill-pay. With flat-rate service plans, Complete Controller is the most cost-effective expert accounting solution for business, family-office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.Complete Controller. America’s Bookkeeping Experts