U.S. productivity 'rising': Less staff, working harder?

Summary:American productivity has grown by its fastest rate since 2010 in Q3 2012 according to official figures.

American productivity has grown by its fastest rate since 2010 in Q3 2012 according to official figures.

Official figures released by the Labor Department suggests that in the third quarter, productivity among non-farming workers rose by 2.9 -- measured in hourly output per worker -- in comparison to Q3 2012.

Original estimates in November suggested that productivity would grow by 1.9 percent.

In addition, the overall rate of hours worked by non-farming employees rose by 1.3 percent. In the third quarter of this year, productivity increased 1.7 percent year-on-year, output rose rose 3.5 percent and overall hours worked increased 1.8 percent.

Labor costs declined 1.9 percent, revised from original estimates of 0.1 percent, while hourly pay increased 0.9 percent. Over the last four quarters, labor costs have risen 0.1 percent.

In the manufacturing sector, productivity declined 0.7 percent, and labor costs increased 3.2 percent across the board -- something the Labor Department puts down to "a large upward revision to hourly compensation."

Within the business sector, productivity levels rose 2.5 percent based on Q3's figures, and jumped 1.6 percent year-on-year. Output rose 3.6 percent quarter-on-quarter, hours worked increased by 1.1 percent, and hourly wages increased by one percent. Labor costs decreased by 1.5 percent from Q3, and lowered by 0.2 percent year-on-year.

The rise in productivity levels may suggest that companies are finding ways of getting employees to work harder instead of hiring extra staff in an economy where firms are struggling -- or simply that staff are being made to take on additional work to cover the lack of employees, and accept it rather than lose a job they may not find again for some time.

Image credit: Alan Cleaver


This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Topics: Innovation


Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

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