ECONOMY

US productivity up at 3.1 percent rate in third quarter

The productivity of American workers rose in the July-September quarter at the fastest pace in two years, while labor costs slowed.

The Labor Department says that productivity increased at a 3.1 percent rate in the third quarter, a significant improvement from the previous three quarters when productivity had fallen. Unit labor costs edged up a modest 0.3 percent in the third quarter, compared to a 3.9 percent jump in the second quarter.

The rise in productivity was the best showing since a 4.2 percent gain in the third quarter of 2014. But the rebound was expected to be only a temporary improvement from a worrying broader trend of weak productivity gains since the 2007-2009 recession. Strong gains in productivity are needed to boost Americans' living standards.