US productivity falls at 0.9% rate in first quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. productivity fell at a 0.9% rate in the first three months of this year, a smaller decline than first estimated, while labor costs rose at a slightly faster pace. The Labor Department reported Thursday that the first-quarter decline in productivity was smaller than the initial estimate a month ago of a 2.5% drop. Labor costs rose at a 5.1% rate, slightly faster than the 4.8% increase first reported. Productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, has lagged over the past decade, a troubling development that economists have been unable to adequately explain. Productivity is the key to rising living standards and the slow pace of growth in recent years has been a major reason that wage gains have lagged.