June 6, 2018 / 12:40 PM / 2 years ago

U.S. first-quarter productivity revised to 0.4 percent

FILE PHOTO: A steel worker returns to work after a two year idle at U.S. Steel Granite City Works in Granite City, Illinois, U.S., May 24, 2018. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. worker productivity increased less than initially thought in the first quarter, while growth in unit labor costs was a bit stronger, supporting views that inflation pressures were steadily building up.

The Labor Department said on Wednesday nonfarm productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, rose at a 0.4 percent annualized rate in the January-March quarter, instead of the 0.7 percent pace it reported last month.

Fourth-quarter productivity rose at an unrevised 0.3 percent. Economists polled by Reuters had expected that first-quarter productivity would be revised down to a 0.6 percent growth rate.

Compared to the first quarter of 2017, productivity increased at an unrevised rate of 1.3 percent.

Hourly compensation accelerated at a 3.3 percent rate in the January-March quarter, rather than the 3.4 percent pace reported last month. Compensation rose at 2.9 percent pace in the fourth quarter. It increased at a 2.6 percent rate compared to the first quarter of 2017.

Unit labor costs, the price of labor per single unit of output, rose at a 2.9 percent pace in the first three months of the year, rather than the 2.7 percent rate reported in May.

Labor costs rose at a rate of 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter. They were up at a 1.3 percent rate compared to the first quarter of 2017.

Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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