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With labor plentiful, factory jobs scarce, and many companies in financial trouble, some labor unions agreed to reductions in wages or benefits. Others agreed to continue the status quo until conditions improved. Labor's recommendations for more cost-effective methods of production played an important part in the turnaround in many companies. Increasingly, labor had a direct stake in companies' profitability through profit-sharing plans, employee stock ownership plans (ESOP'S), or outright purchase of the company. The outgrowth of these efforts was an increase in productivity that improved the U.S. manufacturing position in the world economy, as the index of output per employee hour worked rose from 108 (1977 = 100) at the end of the last recession to 140 by the decade's end. The weakening dollar in the mid-1980's set the stage for a surge in export orders in 1987, and U.S. manufacturers were poised to fill the demand abroad as well as the expanding markets at home.