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Economy in Brief

U.S. Worker Productivity Growth is Steady
by Tom Moeller  November 14, 2013

Nonfarm business sector productivity matched expectations and grew 1.9% last quarter, roughly the same as during Q2, revised up from no-change. Over the past year, however, worker productivity has been unchanged. Output rose 3.7% last quarter (1.8% y/y) and hours worked increased 1.7% (1.8% y/y). Compensation rose 1.3% (1.9% y/y) but when adjusted for price inflation it declined 1.3% in Q3 (+ 0.3% y/y). Unit labor costs fell 0.6% (+1.9% y/y).

In the factory sector, worker productivity nudged up at a 0.4% annual rate (2.3% y/y). Output rose 1.3% (2.3% y/y) while hours worked gained 0.8% (0.1% y/y). Worker compensation firmed at a 1.7% rate (2.3% y/y). Adjusted for price inflation, compensation fell at a 0.9% rate but it was up 0.7% y/y. Unit labor costs increased at a 1.3% rate (0.0% y/y) in Q3, still recovering from the 4.3% Q1 decline.

The productivity & cost figures are available in Haver's USECON database. 

Productivity & Costs (SAAR,%) Q3'13 Q2'13 Q1'13 Q3 Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Nonfarm Business Sector
Output per Hour (Productivity) 1.9 1.8 -1.7 0.0 1.5 0.5 3.2
Compensation per Hour 1.3 2.3 -5.9 1.9 2.6 2.5 2.1
Unit Labor Costs -0.6 0.5 -3.5 1.9 1.2 2.0 -1.2
Manufacturing Sector
Output per Hour 0.4 2.7 3.9 2.3 1.8 1.0 6.3
Compensation per Hour 1.7 4.2 -0.9 2.3 1.9 1.3 2.4
Unit Labor Costs 1.3 1.5 -4.3 0.0 0.1 0.4 -3.7
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