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Economic Report: U.S. productivity gain moderates in second quarter

The numbers: U.S. productivity rose rose at a 2.3% annual clip in the second quarter, the government said Tuesday. That’s down from a revised 4.3% gain in the January-March quarter. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had projected a 3.7% rise. 

U.S. productivity increased at an 1.9% pace year over year. 

What happened: Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work.

Output in the second quarter rose 7.9%. Hours worked rose 5.5%. 

Unit-labor costs, a key measure of wages,  rose 1% in the second quarter and have risen a slight 0.1% over the past four quarter. Unit labor costs in January-March quarter were revised down sharply to a 2.8% decline from the prior estimate of a 1.7% gain.

Big picture: Economists are debating whether the pandemic has accelerated productivity. While some economists note that businesses continue to produce goods with fewer workers, other economists see a general decline in business conditions.

Market reaction: Stocks
DJIA,
+0.36%

SPX,
+0.01%

were little changed ahead of the open on Tuesday.

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