US Labor Productivity Jumps More Than Expected In Q3

The Labor Department says the increase in productivity in the July-September quarter was double the 1.5 percent gain in the second quarter.

Washington, DC, November 2, 2017-Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased 3.0% during the third quarter of 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, as output increased 3.8% and hours worked increased 0.8%.

The report said hourly compensation surged up by 3.5% in the third quarter after climbing by 1.8% in the second quarter.

In parallel, hourly compensation was up by 3.5%, such that the rise in unit labour costs was limited to 0.5%. Increases in hourly compensation tend to increase unit labour costs, and increases in output per hour tend to reduce them.

The strong upturn in productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, is not expected to last.

The bigger than expected increase in productivity, a measure of output per hour, came as output saw another substantial increase but the pace of growth in hours worked slowed. Over the last four quarters, total manufacturing sector productivity increased 0.1% as output increased 1.2% and hours worked increased 1.1%.

Versus the same period one year ago, labour productivity was ahead by 1.5% but unit labour costs were 0.1% lower.

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