U.S. Productivity Growth Stalled in Fourth Quarter
By Josh Mitchell and Ben Leubsdorf
WASHINGTON--U.S. productivity growth stalled late last year while the cost of labor grew more quickly than previously thought.
Productivity--a measure of the goods and services Americans produced per hour worked--was flat in the fourth quarter of 2017, the Labor Department said Wednesday. That figure, based on revised data, replaced the agency's prior estimate of a 0.1% decline, at an annual rate, for nonfarm business productivity.
Meanwhile, unit labor costs grew at an annual rate of 2.5% in October through December. The agency previously reported a 2% gain.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected the revised figures to show a 0.1% drop in productivity and a 2.1% gain in labor costs.
Productivity has grown at a sluggish pace throughout the current expansion, continuing a decades-long slide. But it picked up last year. Productivity grew 1.1% in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared with a year earlier.
Meanwhile, rising wages combined with modest economic growth has pushed up unit labor costs higher than previously estimated. In addition to the fourth-quarter upward revision, unit labor costs grew at a 1% rate in the third quarter. The agency previously reported a 0.1% drop.
The Labor Department's report on productivity can be accessed at http://bls.gov/lpc.
Write to Josh Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org and Ben Leubsdorf at email@example.com.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 07, 2018 08:45 ET (13:45 GMT)Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.