U.S. productivity in the third quarter grew at a 2% annual pace, preliminary data show, marking the fourth sizable increase in the past five quarters. Output of goods and services climbed a seasonally adjusted 4.4% and hours worked rose at a 2.3% annual pace, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday. Productivity has risen at least 2% or more in four of the last five quarters, excluding a 4.5% plunge in the first quarter tied to harsh winter weather. The gain in the third quarter, however, could be trimmed next month if growth in the economy is revised lower as expected. Hourly compensation increased at a 2.3% rate in the third quarter while unit-labor costs grew a slower 0.3%. Adjusted for inflation, hourly compensation advanced 1.2%. In the second quarter, productivity was revised up to show a 2.9% gain instead of 2.3%.
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