Productivity On the Rise

Productivity gains play an important role in economic output, and recent gains support an encouraging picture of the U.S. economy. Productivity, first and foremost, is a primary driver of gross domestic product (GDP) growth [Figure 1]. In the second quarter of 2018, nonfarm productivity rose 2.9%, its fastest pace of growth since the first quarter of 2015. Business sector productivity grew 3.6%, its biggest quarterly jump since the fourth quarter of 2009, while manufacturing sector productivity rose 0.9%. Nonfarm productivity grew primarily from an increase in output per hour of work (versus the number of hours worked). Output increased 4.8% quarter over quarter (its fastest pace since 2014), while hours worked grew 1.9% (versus a 2.2% rise in the first quarter).

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