U.S. worker productivity rose more than expected in the second quarter as hours increased at their fastest pace in 1-1/2 years, keeping labor costs under control.
The Labor Department said on Wednesday that nonfarm productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, increased at a 0.9 percent annualized rate in the April-June period. First-quarter productivity was revised to show it edging up at a 0.1 percent pace instead of being unchanged as previously reported.
Compared to the second quarter of 2016, productivity increased at a 1.2 percent rate, the strongest performance in two years. Economists had forecast productivity increasing at a 0.7 percent pace in the second quarter.
With productivity rising, unit labor costs, the price of labor per single unit of output, increased at only a 0.6 percent pace in the second quarter after jumping at a 5.4 percent rate in the January-March period.
Compared to the second quarter of