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Financial News: U.S. Labor Productivity Jumps 3.6% In Q1, Much

U.S. Labor Productivity Jumps 3.6% In Q1, Much More Than Expected

05/02/2019 - 09:19:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - Reflecting a spike in output, the Labor Department released a report on Thursday showing a much bigger than expected increase in labor productivity in the first quarter.

The Labor Department said productivity surged up by 3.6 percent in the first quarter after climbing by a downwardly revised 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter.

Economists had expected production to jump by 2.2 percent compared to the 1.9 percent increase that had been reported for the previous quarter.

The bigger than expected increase in productivity, a measure of output per hour, came as output shot up by 4.1 percent compared to a 0.5 percent uptick in hours worked.

Meanwhile, the report also said unit labor costs dropped by 0.9 percent in the first quarter after soaring by 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter.

The pullback in unit labor costs came as a surprise to economists, who had expected costs to climb by 1.5 percent during the quarter.

Costs fell as the jump in productivity more than offset a 2.6 percent increase in hourly compensation, which spiked by 3.9 percent in the previous quarter.

Real hourly compensation, which takes changes in consumer prices into account, increased by 1.7 percent in the first quarter after climbing by 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter.

Compared to the same quarter a year ago, productivity in the first quarter was up by 2.4 percent, as output jumped by 3.9 percent and hours worked increased by 1.5 percent.

Unit labor costs edged up just 0.1 percent year-over-year, the lowest annual rate since a 1.7 percent slump in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Hourly compensation was up by 2.5 percent compared to the same quarter a year ago, while real hourly compensation rose by 0.8 percent.

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