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Economy in Brief

U.S. Worker Productivity Growth Is Steady and Firm
by Tom Moeller  February 6, 2014

Nonfarm business sector productivity grew 3.2% last quarter (1.7% y/y) following its 3.6% Q3 rise. The gain beat the 2.5% expectation in the Action Economics survey. For all of last year productivity rose 0.6%, down from the 1.5% rise in 2012. Output gained 4.9% last quarter (3.3% y/y) and hours worked increased 1.7% (1.6% y/y). Compensation rose a steady 1.5% (0.4% y/y) but when adjusted for inflation it increased 0.6% in Q4 (-0.9% y/y). Unit labor costs fell 1.6% and were down 1.3% y/y. For all of last year costs rose a fairly steady 1.0%.

In the factory sector, worker productivity rebounded at a 2.0% annual rate last quarter (2.1% y/y). For the year productivity rose 2.0%. Output surged at a 6.6% rate (3.3% y/y) while hours worked gained 4.4% (1.2% y/y). Worker compensation increased at a 1.0% rate (1.2% y/y). Adjusted for price inflation, compensation edged 0.2% higher (-0.0% y/y. Unit labor costs fell 1.0% (-0.9% y/y) in Q4 and for all of last year costs declined 0.8%.

The productivity & cost figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The expectations figure is from Action Economics and is the AS1REPNA database.

Productivity & Costs (SAAR,%) Q4'13 Q3'13 Q2'13 Q4 Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
Nonfarm Business Sector
Output per Hour (Productivity) 3.2 3.6 1.8 1.7 0.6 1.5 0.5
Compensation per Hour 1.5 1.6 3.2 0.4 1.6 2.6 2.5
Unit Labor Costs -1.6 -2.0 2.0 -1.3 1.0 1.2 2.0
Manufacturing Sector
Output per Hour 2.0 -0.1 2.8 2.1 2.0 1.8 1.0
Compensation per Hour 1.0 1.2 3.3 1.2 1.2 1.9 1.3
Unit Labor Costs -1.0 1.2 0.4 -0.9 -0.8 0.1 0.4
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