US productivity falls at 3.2% rate in 1Q

Written By BY MARTIN CRUTSINGER | AP Economics Writer Posted: 06/04/2014, 07:46am
Array In this Friday, May 16, 2014 photo, a construction worker works on the site of the SoMa at Brickell apartment building in downtown Miami. The Labor Department reports revised figures for productivity in the first quarter on Wednesday, June 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

WASHINGTON — U.S. productivity fell even more than previously thought in the January-March period while labor costs rose at a faster pace.

The Labor Department says productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, declined at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the first quarter, the weakest showing since the beginning months of the recession in 2008. Unit labor costs rose at a 5.7 percent rate, the fastest pace in more than a year.

Rising labor costs and falling productivity can be a cause for concern if they are an indication that inflation is worsening. But the first quarter performance was seen as a temporary bump caused by an unusually harsh winter which caused the economy to go into reverse. A strong rebound is expected in the current quarter.

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