Definition of Equivalent Unit of Production
An equivalent unit of production is an expression of the amount of work done by a manufacturer on units of output that are partially completed at the end of an accounting period. Basically the fully completed units and the partially completed units are expressed in terms of fully completed units.
Equivalent units are used in the production cost reports for the producing departments of manufacturers using a process costing system. Cost accounting textbooks are likely to present the cost calculations per equivalent unit of production under two cost flow assumptions: weighted-average and FIFO.
Example of Equivalent Units of Production
Assume that a manufacturer uses direct labor continuously in one of its production departments. During June, the department began with no units in inventory and then started and completed 10,000 units. In addition, it started 1,000 units but they were only 30% complete at the end of June. The production cost report for this department will indicate that it manufactured 10,300 (10,000 + 300) equivalent units of product during June.
If the department's direct labor cost was $103,000 during the month, it's June direct labor cost per equivalent unit will be $10 ($103,000 divided by 10,300 equivalent units). This means that $100,000 (10,000 X $10) of labor costs will be assigned to the finished units and $3,000 (300 equivalent units X $10 labor cost per equivalent unit) will be assigned to the 1,000 partially completed units.