US productivity up 1.7% in 2019, best gain in 9 years

US productivity up 1.7% in 2019, best gain in 9 years
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WASHINGTON — U.S. productivity rebounded in the final three months of last year, helping to boost productivity growth for the year to the best showing in nearly a decade.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that productivity grew at an annual rate of 1.4% in the October-December quarter, a significant improvement from a 0.2% drop in productivity in the third quarter.

For the year, productivity increased 1.7%, up from gains of 1.3% in both 2018 and 2018. While a 1.7% rise in productivity is considered modest, it was the best annual showing since a 3.4% advance in 2010.

Labour costs rose 1.4% in the fourth quarter, a slowdown from a 2.5% jump in the third quarter. For the year, labour costs rose 2%, up from a 1.8% gain in 2018.

Productivity, a key factor needed to boost living standards, has been lagging for most of this record-long expansion, now in its 11th year. But economists believe there are some signs at least that productivity may finally be starting to improve.

Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press

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