WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. worker productivity grew a modest amount from January through March after having declined in the previous quarter. Weak productivity growth could boost hiring if consumers and businesses spend more.
The Labor Department says productivity rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.5 percent in the first quarter, following a 1.7 percent decline in the October to December period.
The first quarter performance was revised down slightly from an initial estimate of a 0.7 percent first quarter increase. The revision reflected the fact that the government lowered its estimate of overall economic output in the first quarter from a rate of 2.5 percent down to 2.4 percent. Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work.
Labor costs actually fell in the January to March quarter, dropping at an annual rate of 4.3 percent after having surged at an 11.8 percent rate in the fourth quarter.