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Nonfarm business sector labor productivity decreased 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2020

May 11, 2020

Nonfarm business sector labor productivity decreased 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2020, as output decreased 6.2 percent and hours worked decreased
3.8 percent. Productivity had increased in 15 of the 16 quarters between fourth quarter 2015 and first quarter 2020.

Percent change from previous quarter (annual rate) in labor productivity, output, and hours worked in the nonfarm business sector, first quarter 2005 to first quarter 2020
Quarter Productivity Output Hours worked

Q1 2005

4.6% 5.4% 0.8%

Q2 2005

-1.0 1.5 2.4

Q3 2005

3.2 4.1 0.9

Q4 2005

0.3 3.0 2.7

Q1 2006

2.9 7.0 4.0

Q2 2006

-0.3 0.6 0.9

Q3 2006

-1.2 0.9 2.2

Q4 2006

3.4 4.8 1.4

Q1 2007

1.1 1.2 0.1

Q2 2007

1.7 3.3 1.6

Q3 2007

4.0 2.6 -1.4

Q4 2007

3.2 2.2 -0.9

Q1 2008

-3.1 -4.4 -1.3

Q2 2008

4.2 1.9 -2.2

Q3 2008

1.2 -3.4 -4.5

Q4 2008

-2.7 -11.8 -9.3

Q1 2009

3.9 -6.5 -10.0

Q2 2009

8.5 -0.8 -8.7

Q3 2009

6.1 1.4 -4.4

Q4 2009

5.7 5.8 0.1

Q1 2010

2.0 1.9 -0.1

Q2 2010

1.0 4.6 3.6

Q3 2010

2.2 4.5 2.3

Q4 2010

1.4 3.1 1.7

Q1 2011

-2.8 -2.1 0.6

Q2 2011

0.8 4.2 3.4

Q3 2011

-1.5 0.0 1.5

Q4 2011

2.6 5.8 3.2

Q1 2012

1.5 4.8 3.3

Q2 2012

1.9 2.5 0.6

Q3 2012

-0.9 0.9 1.9

Q4 2012

-1.4 0.7 2.1

Q1 2013

2.4 4.1 1.7

Q2 2013

-1.4 0.0 1.5

Q3 2013

1.9 4.1 2.1

Q4 2013

3.1 4.6 1.4

Q1 2014

-3.9 -1.9 2.1

Q2 2014

4.2 7.0 2.8

Q3 2014

3.9 6.5 2.5

Q4 2014

-1.9 2.7 4.7

Q1 2015

2.9 3.8 0.8

Q2 2015

1.7 3.7 1.9

Q3 2015

0.8 1.2 0.3

Q4 2015

-2.9 -0.4 2.6

Q1 2016

0.8 2.3 1.6

Q2 2016

0.8 2.0 1.2

Q3 2016

1.3 2.4 1.2

Q4 2016

1.8 2.7 0.9

Q1 2017

1.1 2.5 1.3

Q2 2017

0.5 2.7 2.2

Q3 2017

2.9 4.2 1.3

Q4 2017

0.9 4.2 3.3

Q1 2018

0.9 2.9 2.0

Q2 2018

2.1 4.0 1.8

Q3 2018

1.7 3.5 1.8

Q4 2018

0.6 1.2 0.7

Q1 2019

3.9 3.9 0.1

Q2 2019

2.7 1.9 -0.7

Q3 2019

-0.3 2.3 2.6

Q4 2019

1.2 2.4 1.2

Q1 2020

-2.5 -6.2 -3.8

The decline in nonfarm business sector labor productivity in the first quarter of 2020 was the largest quarterly decline since the fourth quarter of 2015, when output per hour decreased 2.9 percent. It reflects the largest decline in output since the first quarter of 2009 (−6.5 percent) and the largest decline in hours worked since the third quarter of 2009 (−4.4 percent).

These data are from the Labor Productivity and Costs program and are seasonally adjusted. For more information, see “Labor Productivity and Costs — First Quarter 2020, Preliminary.” 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. More labor productivity charts can be found at Graphics for Economic News Releases: Productivity and Costs.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Nonfarm business sector labor productivity decreased 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2020 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2020/nonfarm-business-sector-labor-productivity-decreased-2-point-5-percent-in-the-first-quarter-of-2020.htm (visited August 04, 2020).

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