Productivity was slightly better than originally expected in the first quarter, but unit labor costs posted a sizable jump, which could add questions about wage pressures to the inflation puzzle, according to a government report Thursday.
The Labor Department's final reading of productivity showed a 3.8% annual growth rate, slightly more than economists' consensus expectation for 3.7%. That follows the previous reading of 3.6% and is up sharply from the fourth-quarter's 2.6% growth rate. Business productivity, in particular, rose 4.6% in the first quarter.
Manufacturing productivity growth was revised down to 2.9%, reflecting conditions in the nondurable goods sector.
The report also showed nonfarm unit labor costs rose 0.8% during the first quarter, double the consensus forecast, led by a 3.1% increase in the manufacturing sector.
In another report, weekly jobless claims for the week ended May 29 fell 6,000 to 339,000 from the previous week. Economists were expecting 337,000 new claims.
The government tomorrow releases its May employment report, which is expected to show a gain of 215,000 in nonfarm payrolls, down from the 288,000 new jobs added in April. The unemployment rate is expected to remain at 5.6%.