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Business productivity rose in first quarter

May 2, 2013 at 11:59 AM

WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- Non-farm labor productivity rose at a 0.7 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday.

In a report considered preliminary -- subject to changes later -- the bureau said productivity, defined as output per hour, rose with output up a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 2.5 percent and hours worked up a 1.8 percent on a SAAR basis.

In the first quarter, unit labor costs rose 0.5 percent, because increases in wages, up 1.2 percent quarter to quarter, were higher than increases in productivity.

Compared to the first quarter of 2012, productivity rose 0.9 percent on a 2.5 percent increase in output and a 1.5 percent increase in hours worked.

Over the past four quarters, unit labor costs have risen 0.6 percent, the bureau said.

In the manufacturing sector, quarter to quarter, productivity rose 3.8 percent on a SAAR basis with output up 5.6 percent and hours worked up 1.7 percent.

While output rose for non-durable and durable companies, "virtually all hours growth occurred in durable manufacturing," the bureau said.

Unit labor costs for manufacturing rose 1.6 percent from the first quarter of 2012, but dropped 0.6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012.

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