In the fourth quarter, productivity grew by the smallest margin since early
2001, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of
Productivity--as measured by output per hour--grew at an annual rate of 0.8
percent in the fourth quarter, down from the 1.8 percent rise in the third quarter.
On an annual average basis, productivity rose 4.1 percent.
Hourly compensation in the nonfarm business sector rose 3.1 percent in the fourth
quarter of 2004, following a 3.5-percent increase in the third quarter. When
changes in consumer prices were taken into account, real hourly compensation
declined 0.3 percent during the fourth quarter of 2004 and increased 1.6 percent
in the third quarter.
Unit labor costs increased 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter, after rising
1.6 percent in the third quarter of 2004.