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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Productivity Up; Hours / Output Down

Marketwatch with the details:

Productivity rose in the first quarter as U.S. firms slashed their workforce, outpacing the drop in output, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Productivity in the nonfarm business sector - output per hour worked - rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.8% in the quarter as output fell 8.2%, while hours worked fell 9% -- the largest drop in hours since 1975.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected no change in productivity, and a 3% gain in unit labor costs. Compared with the first quarter in the prior year, productivity was up 1.8%, while unit labor costs rose 2.4%. Within manufacturing, productivity fell 3.4%, while output fell a record 22.4% and hours declined a record 19.7%. The data go back to 1987. Unit labor costs in manufacturing rose 16.7%.

Source: BLS