U.S. 2Q Productivity Revised Higher Than Expected

U.S. nonfarm productivity increased at a much faster clip than previously thought in the second quarter as businesses squeezed more output from employees, government data showed on Wednesday.

Productivity increased at a 2.2 percent annual rate rather than 1.6 percent, the Labor Department said. Productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, fell at a 0.5 percent rate in the first three months of 2012.

Economists had expected second-quarter productivity would be raised to a 1.8 percent rate. The revision reflects an upward adjustment to the country's second-quarter economic growth estimate to a 1.7 percent pace from 1.5 percent.

Businesses emerged from the 2007-09 recession lean and are showing little urgency to ramp up hiring, relying on their existing workforces to meet production.

Output increased at a 2.4 percent rate in the second quarter instead of the previously reported 2.0 percent. Output increased at a 2.7 percent pace in the first quarter.

Productivity grew rapidly as the economy recovered from its steep downturn, peaking at a 6.8 percent growth rate in the second quarter of 2009. Gains came as companies cut costs, particularly their wage bills.

The productivity report showed unit labor costs rose at a 1.5 percent rate in the second quarter rather than 1.7 percent. Unit labor costs accelerated at a 6.4 percent rate in the first quarter.

The revision to the growth in unit labor costs was in line with economists' expectations.