Productivity fastest in two years, labor costs subdued

WASHINGTON, Wed Dec 5, 2012 — Nonfarm productivity increased at a much faster clip than initially thought in the third quarter as businesses held the line on hiring even as output surged, with unit labor costs falling at their fastest pace in almost a year.

Productivity increased at a 2.9 percent annual rate, the fastest since the third quarter of 2010, the Labor Department said on Wednesday.

It had previously estimated that productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, rose at a 1.9 percent pace in the third quarter. In the second quarter, productivity had increased at a 1.9 percent rate.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast productivity being revised up to a 2.7 percent pace in the third quarter.

The upward revision to productivity growth reflected an upward adjustment to the estimate for third-quarter economic growth to a 2.7 percent pace from 2.0 percent.

But most of the pick-up in GDP growth