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U.S. productivity in first quarter: zero

The productivity of American companies and their employees wasn’t as bad in the first quarter as originally reported. The government on Monday said productivity was unchanged in the first three months of 2017 instead of declining at a 0.6% annual rate. The biggest change: The increase in output, or how many goods and services companies produce, was raised to 1.7% from 1%. The amount of hours employees worked, meanwhile, was revised to show a slightly higher 1.7% gain instead of 1.6%. The updated figures now show that labor costs rose more slowly than initially reported, a sign companies continue to keep costs down despite a steadily expanding economy and growing shortages of skilled labor. Unit-labor costs rose a revised 2.2% vs the prior 3% reading. The closely follow measure reflects how much it costs a business to produce one unit of output, such as a tons of coal, reams of paper or a bushels of wheat.

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