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Financial News: U.S. Labor Productivity Climbs Less Than Previously Estima

U.S. Labor Productivity Climbs Less Than Previously Estimated In Q1

06/06/2018 - 09:37:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - Labor productivity in the U.S. increased by less than previously estimated in the first quarter, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Wednesday.

The report said labor productivity rose by 0.4 percent in the first quarter compared to the previously estimated 0.7 percent growth. Economists had expected the increase in productivity to be downwardly revised to 0.6 percent.

The downward revision to the increase in productivity, a measure of output per hour, came as the increase in output was downwardly revised to 2.7 percent from 2.8 percent and the increase in hours worked was upwardly revised to 2.3 percent from 2.1 percent.

Despite the downward revision, the increase in productivity in the first quarter still reflects an uptick from the 0.3 percent growth seen in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Meanwhile, the report said the rate of growth in unit labor costs in the first quarter was upwardly revised to 2.9 percent from 2.7 percent. The increase in costs had been expected to be revised to 2.8 percent.

The Labor Department said hourly compensation surged up by 3.3 percent compared to the previously reported 3.4 percent jump.

The modest drop in real hourly compensation, which takes changes in consumer prices into account, was revised to 0.2 percent from 0.1 percent.

The revised unit labor cost growth in the first quarter reflected an acceleration from the 2.5 percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Compared to the same quarter a year ago, productivity was up by 1.3 percent in the first quarter, as output climbed by 3.6 percent and hours worked increased by 2.3 percent.

Unit labor costs were up by 1.3 year-over-year in the first quarter amid a 2.6 percent jump in hourly compensation. Real hourly compensation was up just 0.3 percent year-over-year.

"Overall, productivity growth continues to be steady, albeit mild, in a historical context," said Gregory Daco, Chief U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics. "This is a fifth consecutive quarter of growth in the 1.2-1.4% y/y range, and we expect a gradual pickup going forward."

"Meanwhile, unit labor costs remain contained despite a tightening labor market," he added. "Going forward, firming compensation growth will incrementally benefit labor, adding some pressure to businesses, especially those with little pricing power."

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