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Wednesday, 7 February, 2001, 16:06 GMT
US productivity slows
US workers made gains in the final months of 2000
US workers productivity gains have slowed
The key driving force behind recent US economic expansion has shown signs of waning, according to data from Washington.

Worker productivity, a key measure of labour costs, grew at an annual rate of 2.4% in the final three months of 2000.

Durable-goods manufacturing saw gains of 4.7% in productivity.
Durable-goods manufacturing saw gains of 4.7% in productivity.

That compares with a revised growth rate of 3% in the previous quarter and a near all-time high of 5.3% in the second quarter.

Financial analysts, including Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, have credited such stellar gains in worker productivity for keeping inflation in-check during the recent economic boom in the US.

While worker productivity still grew, it dropped below the average 3% growth rate analysts believe will keep the US from a painful recession.

In preparing the report, the Labor Department noted that for 2000 as a whole, productivity increased at a rate of 4.3%, the strongest showing since the 4.5% gain in 1983.

Inflation fears

But the Labor Department also reported unit-labour costs rose at an annual rate of 4.1% in the fourth quarter - higher than analyst estimates and much higher than revised third-quarter costs, which rose 3.2%.

Unit labour costs are used as a gauge of inflationary pressures within the economy.

For the year, labour costs edged up 0.7%, down from 1999's 1.8% gain.

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See also:

01 Feb 01 | Business
US boom bids adieu
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