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U.S. third-quarter productivity revised higher; labor costs still elevated

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A worker organizes empty bins during Cyber Monday at the Amazon fulfillment center in Robbinsville Township in New Jersey, U.S., November 28, 2022. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

U.S. worker productivity rebounded a bit more than initially thought in the third quarter, but the trend remained weak, keeping labor costs elevated.

Nonfarm productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, rose at a 0.8% annualized rate last quarter, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. That was revised up from the 0.3% pace reported last month. Economists polled by Reuters had expected productivity would be revised up to a 0.6% pace.

Productivity fell at a 1.3% rate from a year ago, instead of the previously reported 1.4% pace. Large shifts in the composition of the workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic have made it harder to measure productivity.

Unit labor costs – the price of labor per single unit of output – increased at a 2.4% rate. They were previously reported to have advanced at a 3.5% pace.

Unit labor costs rose at a 5.3% rate from a year ago instead of the previously reported 6.1% pace.

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