U.S. First Quarter Productivity and Cost Report (Text)

The following is the text of the U.S. productivity and costs report for the first quarter released by the Labor Department.


First Quarter 2013, Preliminary

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased at a 0.7 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The increase in productivity reflects increases of 2.5 percent in output and 1.8 percent in hours worked. (All quarterly percent changes in this release are seasonally adjusted annual rates.) From the first quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013, productivity increased 0.9 percent as output and hours worked increased 2.5 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. (See table A.)

Labor productivity, or output per hour, is calculated by dividing an index of real output by an index of hours worked of all persons, including employees, proprietors, and unpaid family workers.

Unit labor costs in nonfarm businesses increased 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013, as an increase in hourly compensation was greater than the increase in productivity. Unit labor costs rose 0.6 percent over the last four quarters. (See table A.)

BLS defines unit labor costs as the ratio of hourly compensation to labor productivity; increases in hourly compensation tend to increase unit labor costs and increases in output per hour tend to reduce them.

Manufacturing sector productivity increased 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013, as output grew 5.6 percent and hours rose 1.7 percent. Output growth was robust in both manufacturing subsectors, while virtually all hours growth occurred in durable manufacturing. Over the last four quarters, manufacturing sector productivity increased 1.7 percent as output and hours worked rose 2.6 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively. Unit labor costs in manufacturing decreased 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013 and increased 1.6 percent from the same quarter a year ago. (See tables A and 3.)

Preliminary fourth quarter and annual 2012 measures were announced today for the nonfinancial corporate sector. Productivity increased 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 and edged up 0.1 percent over the last four quarters. Annual average productivity increased 0.5 percent from 2011 to 2012. (See tables C and 6).

The concepts, sources, and methods underlying manufacturing output and nonfinancial corporate output measures differ from those used in the business and nonfarm business output series; these output measures are not directly comparable. See Technical Notes for a more detailed explanation.

Revised measures

Revised measures of real hourly compensation for all sectors, from 2008 onward, reflect revisions in the consumer price series based on new and revised data from the BLS Office of Prices and Living Conditions. Output data for the manufacturing sector incorporate historically revised indexes of industrial production published by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on March 22. These revisions affected quarterly manufacturing output, productivity, and unit labor cost measures for the data series beginning in 1987 and recent annual measures. Full historical annual and quarterly measures are available on the labor productivity and costs home page: http://www.bls.gov/lpc/#data.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, nonfarm business sector productivity declined 1.7 percent, a slightly smaller decline than reported March 7. Unit labor costs rose 4.4 percent, less than previously reported. Manufacturing sector productivity rose 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter reflecting a small upward revision to output. Unit labor costs in the manufacturing sector decreased slightly less than previously reported, as the upward revision of hourly compensation was more than that of productivity. (See table B.)

2012 Annual Average measures for productivity and unit labor costs in the nonfarm business sector were virtually unrevised from the March 7 release. In the manufacturing sector, a small downward revision to output led to a downward revision to productivity and an upward revision to unit labor costs. (See table B.) ____________

The revised Productivity and Costs press release for first-quarter 2013 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor

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