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Productivity Spurt Beats Analysts Expectations

Productivity in the first quarter of this year surpassed analyst expectations; with a rate of 3.6 percent growth compared to the 2.5 percent economists were anticipating.

The report states that productivity output rose 4.4 percent and hours worked increased 0.8 percent.

That's just half the good news for business though. The Bureau of Labor also reported today that labor costs, for the third consecutive quarter, have decreased more than expected as well, at an annual rate of 1.6 percent, much more than the 0.7 percent industry watchers had forecast.

For all of 2009, productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, rose at a 3.7 percent rate, nearly double the 2 percent increase in 2008. It was the fastest annual increase in productivity in seven years.

In a related economic report, initial unemployment claims for unemployment benefits dipped last week for the third consecutive time by 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 444,000. That figure bested forecasts of 440,000.

The April jobs report will be released by tomorrow and analysts expect the jobless rate will stay at 9.7 percent despite the addition of 200,000 jobs, as many of those jobs are temporary Census project assignments.

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