The productivity increase included a 1.3 percent gain in hours worked and a 3.2 percent gain in output, the department said.
With production rising faster than hours worked, unit labor costs fell in the third quarter, dropping 0.1 percent.
Hourly compensation, which includes benefits and wages, rose 1.8 percent in the quarter compared to April through June. On a 12-month basis, unit labor costs rose 1.1 percent, the department said.
In the manufacturing sector, output fell 0.6 percent and hours worked dropped 0.2 percent, which amounted to a 0.4 percent decline in productivity.
For durable goods, productivity fell 0.7 percent, while productivity among non-durable goods dropped 0.1 percent.
Unit labor costs for U.S. factories rose 1.5 percent in the third quarter from the second, and fell 0.8 percent from the third quarter of 2011.