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Labor productivity up 4.9 percent, output up 43.5 percent in third quarter 2020

November 09, 2020

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2020, following a 10.6-percent increase in the second quarter of 2020. Output increased 43.5 percent and hours worked increased 36.8 percent at annual rates in the third quarter. There were decreases in unit labor costs (−8.9 percent), hourly compensation (−4.4 percent), and real hourly compensations (−9.1 percent).

Productivity and costs by sector, percent change from previous quarter at annual rate, 3rd quarter 2020
Sector Business Nonfarm business Manufacturing Durable goods Nondurable goods

Labor productivity (output per hour)

6.4% 4.9% 19.0% 44.2% 1.2%


43.7 43.5 54.8 96.0 22.7

Hours worked

35.1 36.8 30.1 35.9 21.2

Unit labor costs

-9.1 -8.9 -18.2 -32.8 -4.0

Hourly compensation

-3.3 -4.4 -2.6 -3.0 -2.8

Real hourly compensation

-8.1 -9.1 -7.4 -7.8 -7.5

In both the second and third quarters of 2020, labor productivity increased 7.7 percent, the highest rate of productivity growth over two quarters since a 7.8-percent increase in both the third and fourth quarters of 1965.

These data are from the Labor Productivity and Costs program. To learn more, see "Productivity and Costs — Third Quarter 2020, Preliminary." Also see Charts related to the latest "Productivity and Costs" news release. Labor productivity, or output per hour, is calculated by dividing an index of real output by an index of hours worked by all persons, including employees, proprietors, and unpaid family workers. All quarterly percent changes in this release are seasonally adjusted annual rates, and show what the percent change would be if the quarterly rate continued for four quarters.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Labor productivity up 4.9 percent, output up 43.5 percent in third quarter 2020 at (visited July 18, 2024).

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