U.S. worker productivity rose 3.6% in Q1, which was well ahead of the 2.4% expected growth. Unit labour costs also fell 1.6%, which was substantially different to the 0.6% gain expected.
Nonfarm business sector labour productivity increased at a 3.6 per cent annual rate during the first quarter of 2010, the U.S. Bureau of labour Statistics reported today, with output rising 4.4 per cent and hours worked rising 0.8 per cent. (All quarterly per cent changes in this release are seasonally adjusted annual rates.) From the first quarter of 2009 to the first quarter of 2010, output increased 3.1 per cent while hours fell 3.0 per cent, yielding an increase in productivity of 6.3 per cent (tables A and 2). This gain in productivity from the same quarter a year ago was the largest since output per hour increased 7.0 per cent over the four-quarter period ending in the first quarter of 1962.
Unit labour costs in nonfarm businesses fell 1.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2010, as the 3.6 per cent increase in productivity outpaced a 1.9 per cent gain in hourly compensation. Unit labour costs fell 3.7 per cent over the last four quarters, as the 6.3 per cent increase in productivity outpaced a 2.3 per cent rise in hourly compensation (tables A and 2).
Manufacturing sector productivity grew 2.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2010, as output rose 7.5 per cent and hours worked increased 4.9 per cent, the first increase in hours since the second quarter of 2007. Gains in productivity, output, and hours were each larger in the durable goods sector than in the nondurable goods sector (tables A, 3, 4 and 5). Unit labour costs in manufacturing declined 3.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2010 and fell 6.1 per cent over the last four quarters. The four-quarter decline was the largest in the series, which begins in the first quarter of 1988.
Fourth quarter and annual 2009 measures of productivity and costs were announced for the nonfinancial corporate sector (tables C and 6). Output per employee hour rose 8.2 per cent for the fourth quarter of 2009 as output and hours rose 8.5 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.
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