US productivity rises 7.3% as hours worked are nearly halved

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UPS employee working at a factory (Photo: UPS)

SILVER SPRING, MD (AP) — U.S. productivity rose at a 7.3% rate in the second quarter as the number of hours worked fell by nearly half, the biggest dropoff since the government started tracking the data.

The Labor Department said Friday that output decreased 38.9%, also the biggest decline ever recorded.

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Hours worked fell 43% in the period, a direct result of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The increase in productivity was the largest since 2009.

Labor costs also jumped, rising 12.2%.

Friday’s report is the first estimate of second-quarter productivity and follows the first quarter’s 0.3% decline.