03/03/2016 08:38 EST | Updated 03/04/2017 00:12 EST

US productivity slows in fourth quarter

WASHINGTON — U.S. productivity fell in the final three months of 2015 at the fastest pace in nearly two years, though the decline was not as large as first reported. Labor costs jumped in the fourth quarter at the fastest pace in a year.

The Labor Department says productivity — the amount of output per hour of work — fell at an annual rate of 2.2 per cent in the October-December period. Preliminary data had reported a 3 per cent drop. Labor costs rose at a rate of 3.3 per cent, revised from an initial 4.5 per cent estimate.

For all of 2015, productivity increased 0.7 per cent, marking the fifth straight year of weak gains. That is a troubling development given that productivity is a key ingredient needed for rising living standards.

Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press