WASHINGTON – American workers were less productive again in the January-March quarter, although the decline wasn't as severe as first thought and labor costs climbed at a faster pace than initial estimates.
The Labor Department says productivity declined at an annual rate of 0.6 percent in the first quarter after a 1.7 percent drop in the fourth quarter. The government first estimated that productivity fell at a 1 percent rate. Labor costs for employers rose at a 4.5 percent rate in the first quarter, even faster than the 4.1 percent gain first reported.
Productivity has been weak for the past five years, a troubling development since productivity growth is the key factor supporting rising living standards. The rise in labor costs is coming after an extended period of weakness.