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ECON: Productivity Lower, Labor Costs Higher
Posted to: Micro News
Thursday, February 07, 2013 8:48 AM

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- Productivity -2.0 vs -1.3 consensus
- Labor Costs +4.5 vs +3.0 consensus

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity decreased at a 2.0 percent annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The decrease in productivity reflects increases of 0.1 percent in output and 2.2 percent in hours worked. (All quarterly percent changes in this release are seasonally adjusted annual rates.) From the fourth quarter of 2011 to the fourth quarter of 2012, productivity increased 0.6 percent as output and hours worked rose 2.4 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.

Unit labor costs in nonfarm businesses increased 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, the combined effect of the 2.0 percent decrease in productivity and a 2.4 percent increase in hourly compensation. Unit labor costs rose 1.9 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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