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U.S. labor productivity shows increase in Q4

Staff Writer |
After reporting a sharp jump in U.S. labor productivity in the third quarter, the Labor Department released a report showing a continued increase in productivity in the fourth quarter.

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The report said productivity climbed by 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter after surging up by a revised 3.5 percent in the third quarter. Economists had expected productivity to increase by 1.0 percent.

The bigger than expected increase in productivity, a measure of output per hour, came as output growth exceeded the increase in hours worked.

Output jumped by 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter after spiking by 4.2 percent in the third quarter, while hours worked increased by 0.9 percent after rising by 0.6 percent.

The Labor Department also said unit labor costs surged up by 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter following a 0.2 percent uptick in the previous quarter. Costs had been expected to jump by 1.9 percent.

The increase in labor costs came as hourly compensation spiked by 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter after soaring by 3.7 percent in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, real hourly compensation, which takes changes in consumer prices into account, dipped by 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter following a 2.1 percent increase in the third quarter.

Compared to the same quarter a year ago, productivity was up by 1.0 percent in the fourth quarter, as output climbed by 2.2 percent and hours worked increased by 1.1 percent.

Unit labor costs were up by 1.9 percent year-over-year in the quarter amid a 2.9 percent jump in hourly compensation.

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