Labor productivity in the US increased 2.9% in the three months that ended on June 30, the biggest gain since the first quarter of 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a report on Thursday.
Analysts had expected productivity gains of 3%. Output increased 5% and hours worked rose 2%. Year-over-year, productivity in the second quarter rose 1.3%, reflecting a 3.5% increase in output and a 2.2% gain in hours worked. Economists have attributed low wage growth to weak gains in productivity in recent quarters.
Unit labor costs for non-farm businesses fell 1% in the second quarter, reflecting a 1.9% increase in hourly compensation and 2.9% increase in labor productivity, the bureau said. That’s on part with the increase in the past four quarters.
Productivity in the manufacturing sector rose 1.5% in the second quarter as output increased 3% and hours worked rose 1.5%. Gains in the durable manufacturing sector were reported at 1.1% as output gained 2.9% and hours worked were up 1.8%. Non-durable goods manufacturing saw gains of 2.2%, reflecting a 3.1% increase in output and a 0.9% gain in hours worked.
Action Economics analysts said they expect 2.5% productivity growth in the third quarter that will beat the 1.6% average pace since the start of the fourth quarter in 2001. Output is expected to rise 4.4%, topping a 66-quarter average of 2.3% and a 2% hours-worked increase that tops the average of 0.6%.
Third-quarter compensation growth is pegged at 3.2% versus a 66-quarter average of a similar 2.8%, the analysts said.