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BLS: Efficiency Soars As Productivity Increases, Costs Fall

Written by Jenna Weiner
Published: 11/6/2009

The BLS released new findings on increasing productivity and decreasing costs for the third quarter of 2009.

While thousands of Americans remain unemployed, it seems those with jobs are working harder than the country has seen in years; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that productivity is up and costs are down - likely good news for small businesses owners.

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Labor productivity increased at a 9.5 percent annual rate during the third quarter of 2009, according to BLS. Labor productivity, or output per hour, was calculated by a 4 percent increase in output over a 5 decrease in hours worked.

This represents the largest gain in productivity in six years, when it rose 9.7 percent in 2003.

Meanwhile labor costs in nonfarm businesses fell 5.2 percent in the third quarter of 2009. Unit labor costs are defined by BLS as the ratio of hourly compensation to labor productivity.

The 5.2 percent decline last quarter represents a notable change, as labor unit costs fell 3.6 percent over the last four quarters combined.

Small business owners might want to assess their own company costs and outputs carefully in the coming months; the BLS makes no predictions about whether efficiency will become a trend this fiscal year.

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