March 5, 2009

Fourth-quarter productivity figure lowered

Fourth-quarter U.S. productivity figures were revised sharply downward Thursday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

Productivity declined to an annual rate of 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter, with figures lowered 3.5 percentage points in the business sector and 3.6 percent in the nonfarm business sector from estimates released Feb. 5, the bureau said.

Unit labor costs in the fourth quarter at 5.7 percent rose significantly over the Feb. 5 estimate of 1.8 percent

Analysts had forecast a 1.5 percent rise in productivity and a 3.4 percent rise in costs. But, the new figures indicate a sharper downturns in productivity and steeper costs.

In manufacturing, productivity fell a full percentage point lower than previously announced. For the year, durable goods manufacturing -- which dropped 14.8 percent in the fourth quarter -- rose 1.6 percent, while nondurable goods rose 1 percent, the bureau said.