Productivity and costs, first quarter 2014

May 14, 2014

During the first quarter of 2014, labor productivity in the nonfarm business sector decreased at annual rate of 1.7 percent. The decrease in productivity reflects increases of 0.3 percent in output and 2.0 percent in hours worked.

Labor productivity and unit labor costs, nonfarm business sector, percent change from previous quarter at annual rate, 2009–2014
QuarterLabor productivity (output per hour)Unit labor costs

Q1 2009


Q2 2009


Q3 2009


Q4 2009


Q1 2010


Q2 2010


Q3 2010


Q4 2010


Q1 2011


Q2 2011


Q3 2011


Q4 2011


Q1 2012


Q2 2012


Q3 2012


Q4 2012


Q1 2013


Q2 2013


Q3 2013


Q4 2013


Q1 2014


From the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014, productivity increased 1.4 percent as output and hours worked rose 3.2 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

Unit labor costs in nonfarm businesses increased 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014, resulting from both a decline in labor productivity and a 2.4-percent increase in hourly compensation. Unit labor costs increased 0.9 percent over the last four quarters.

These data are from the BLS Labor Productivity and Costs program; the data are seasonally adjusted and subject to revision. To learn more, see "Productivity and Costs — First Quarter 2014, Preliminary," (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL‑14‑0746. Labor productivity, or output per hour, is calculated by dividing an index of real output by an index of hours worked for all persons, including employees, proprietors, and unpaid family workers. BLS defines unit labor costs as the ratio of hourly compensation to labor productivity; increases in hourly compensation tend to increase unit labor costs, and increases in output per hour tend to reduce them.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Productivity and costs, first quarter 2014 on the Internet at (visited September 26, 2016).


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