Earlier this month the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that productivity had grown at an annual rate of 0.9 percent during the second quarter. An increase in productivity might sound good on the surface, but this report actually carried some sobering warning signs. The second quarter's 0.9 percent annual rate of productivity growth is a fall-off from 2012's rate of 1.5 percent, and from the average of 2.1 percent over the last four calendar years. What's even more disturbing is that in the latest BLS report, the estimated rate of productivity growth during the first quarter of this year was revised downward from a positive 0.5 percent to a negative 1.7 percent. This was the result of downward revisions in the original estimates of both output and hours worked, with the drop in the estimate of output being the greater of the two. The result is that output actually declined in the first quarter, suggesting that the economy is slowing and getting less efficient as a result.