U.S. productivity drops in first quarter
It increased at a 1.1 percent rate compared to the first quarter of 2016.
Productivity has increased at an average annual rate of 0.6 percent over the last five years, well below its long-term rate of 2.1 percent from 1947 to 2016.
Weak productivity suggests economic growth is likely to remain moderate.
With productivity soft, unit labor costs jumped at a 3.0 percent pace in the first quarter after rising at a 1.3 percent rate in the fourth quarter. They increased at a 2.8 percent rate compared to the first quarter of 2016.
Another report from the Commerce Department showed the trade gap dipped 0.1 percent to $43.7 billion in March as both imports and exports fell, signaling slackening domestic and global demand.
In another report, the department said new orders for U.S.-made goods increased for a fourth straight month in March and orders for capital equipment were stronger than previously reported, suggesting a sustained recovery in the manufacturing sector. ■