May 7, 2009

Productivy makes nomimal gains

The U.S. Labor Department said non-farm productivity gained 0.8 percent in the first quarter due to hours of labor declining faster than output.

Productivity on its own dropped 8.2 percent, but hours-worked fell faster, dropping 9 percent, creating an 0.8 percent rise in productivity, as measured by the department.

Manufacturing productivity for durable goods declined sharply, down 10 percent. For non-durable goods, output shrank by 0.1 percent.

Although the first-quarter figures are preliminary, the department said unit costs grew 3.3 percent in the first three months of the year. In the past 12 months, unit labor costs rose 2.4 percent, a faster rise than the 1.4 percent annual growth rate from 2000 to 2007, the department said.

Analysts had expected a 0.6 percent rise in productivity and a 2.7 percent rise in labor costs. In that light, the preliminary figures could provide good news for investors.