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ECON: Productivity Higher Than Expected While Labor Costs Decline
Posted to: Micro News
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 8:35 AM

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- Productivity +2.9 vs +2.7 Consensus, most since Q310
- Labor Costs -1.9 vs -0.9 Consensus, most since Q411



Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased at a 2.9 percent annual rate during the third quarter of 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The increase in productivity reflects increases of 4.2 percent in output and 1.3 percent in hours worked. (All quarterly percent changes in this release are seasonally adjusted annual rates.) From the third quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of 2012, productivity increased 1.7 percent as output and hours worked rose 3.5 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Labor productivity, or output per hour, is calculated by dividing an index of real output by an index of hours worked of all persons, including employees, proprietors, and unpaid family workers. The measures released today were based on more recent source data than were available for the preliminary report.

Unit labor costs in nonfarm businesses declined 1.9 percent in the third quarter of 2012, while hourly compensation increased 0.9 percent. Unit labor costs rose slightly, 0.1 percent, over the last four quarters.

BLS defines unit labor costs as the ratio of hourly compensation to labor productivity; increases in hourly compensation tend to increase unit labor costs and increases in output per hour tend to reduce them.




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