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U.S. Labor Productivity Decreases Much Less Than Initially Estimated In Q1

Revised data released by the Labor Department on Thursday showed U.S. labor productivity declined by much less than initially estimated in the first quarter.

The Labor Department said labor productivity fell by 0.9 percent in the first quarter compared to the previously reported 2.5 percent nosedive.

The revision to a much smaller decrease came as a surprise to economists, who had expected the slump in labor productivity to be revised to 2.7 percent.

The unexpected upward revision to productivity, a measure of output per hour, came as the plunge in hours worked was revised to 5.6 percent from 3.8 percent.

The report still showed a steep drop in output, which was revised to 6.5 percent from the previously reported 6.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the report showed the jump in unit labor costs in the first quarter was upwardly revised to 5.1 percent from 4.8 percent. The spike in unit labor costs was expected to be upwardly revised to 5.0 percent.

Hourly compensation soared by 4.2 percent compared to the previously reported 2.2 percent surge, but the upward revision was largely offset by the much smaller than previously reported drop in productivity.

Real hourly compensation, which takes into account changes in consumer prices, jumped by 2.9 percent compared to the previously reported 0.9 percent increase.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, labor productivity increased by 1.2 percent, while unit labor costs surged up by 2.2 percent.

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