The productivity of American workers has experienced a significant boost, with a revised 5.2% annual rate increase in the third quarter, according to the government's latest report. This pace marks the fastest growth since the third quarter of 2020 and is the highest recorded figure since the fourth quarter of 2009. In the preliminary report, the initial estimate put the third-quarter gain in nonfarm productivity at 4.7%, which has now been revised upwards.
Over the past year, productivity has shown steady improvement, with a revised 2.4% increase following a 1.2% gain in the second quarter. Notably, this marks the first consecutive quarters of productivity growth since early 2021.
The overall economy also showed strength, growing at a solid 5.2% annual pace in the third quarter, surpassing the initial estimate of 4.9% growth.
In terms of output, the amount of goods and services produced, the latest report reveals a stronger performance compared to previous estimates. The increase in output has been revised to 6.1%, up from the initial estimate of 5.9%.
However, there was a slight adjustment in the hours worked, with a revised annual growth rate of 0.9% compared to the preliminary increase of 1.1%.
Unit-labor costs, on the other hand, saw a more significant decline at a rate of 1.2% in the third quarter, as opposed to the initial decrease of 0.8%.
Over the past year, unit-labor costs have risen by 1.5%, which is lower than the second-quarter rate of 3.5%.
In terms of compensation, there was an acceleration of 3.9% in the third quarter, while inflation-adjusted hourly compensation rose at a rate of 0.3%.
The Bigger Picture
Some economists suggest that we may be witnessing a sustained surge in productivity growth, which brings hope for various reasons. One significant benefit would be the containment of wages, potentially leading to decreased inflation without a sharp rise in unemployment. However, other economists and Federal Reserve officials remain cautious, emphasizing that it is still too early to determine the sustainability of this recent productivity trend.
The stock market responded positively to the news, with DJIA SPX set to open higher on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the 10-year Treasury yield BX:TMUBMUSD10Y saw a slight decrease to 4.17% in early morning trading.
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