US productivity down in spring, while labour costs rise

WASHINGTON – U.S. productivity fell in the April-June quarter by a larger amount than first estimated, while labour costs accelerated sharply.

The Labor Department says productivity declined at an annual rate of 0.6 per cent in the second quarter, even worse than the 0.5 per cent drop initially reported. It marked the third straight quarter that productivity has fallen.

Labour costs rose at an annual rate of 4.3 per cent, the biggest rise since a 5.7 per cent increase in the fourth quarter. Labor costs had fallen at a 0.3 per cent rate in the first quarter.

Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work. It is the major factor that supports rising living standards and has been lagging in the current seven-year economic expansion.