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Nonfarm productivity down 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020

March 08, 2021

Nonfarm business labor productivity decreased 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, as output increased 5.5 percent and hours worked increased 10.1 percent.

Percent change from previous quarter (at annual rate) in labor productivity, output, and hours worked in nonfarm business, first quarter 2010 to fourth quarter 2020
Quarter Productivity
(output per hour)
   Output    Hours worked

Q1 2010

1.9% 1.9% 0.0%

Q2 2010

0.7 4.6 3.8

Q3 2010

2.1 4.5 2.3

Q4 2010

1.7 3.1 1.4

Q1 2011

-2.7 -2.1 0.6

Q2 2011

0.4 4.2 3.7

Q3 2011

-1.5 0.0 1.5

Q4 2011

2.7 5.8 3.0

Q1 2012

1.6 4.8 3.2

Q2 2012

1.5 2.5 0.9

Q3 2012

-0.7 0.9 1.6

Q4 2012

-1.4 0.7 2.1

Q1 2013

2.5 4.1 1.6

Q2 2013

-1.5 0.0 1.6

Q3 2013

1.7 4.1 2.3

Q4 2013

3.2 4.6 1.3

Q1 2014

-3.7 -1.9 1.9

Q2 2014

4.1 7.0 2.8

Q3 2014

3.7 6.5 2.7

Q4 2014

-1.8 2.7 4.6

Q1 2015

4.1 4.6 0.5

Q2 2015

1.6 3.4 1.8

Q3 2015

0.0 1.4 1.4

Q4 2015

-1.6 0.4 2.0

Q1 2016

1.2 2.5 1.3

Q2 2016

-0.4 1.1 1.5

Q3 2016

1.3 2.4 1.2

Q4 2016

3.0 3.4 0.4

Q1 2017

0.8 2.4 1.6

Q2 2017

-1.0 2.1 3.0

Q3 2017

3.2 3.8 0.6

Q4 2017

1.8 4.7 2.9

Q1 2018

1.9 4.3 2.4

Q2 2018

0.7 3.0 2.2

Q3 2018

1.2 2.3 1.1

Q4 2018

0.4 1.4 1.0

Q1 2019

3.9 3.8 0.0

Q2 2019

1.9 1.2 -0.7

Q3 2019

0.5 2.9 2.4

Q4 2019

1.5 2.8 1.3

Q1 2020

-0.8 -6.4 -5.6

Q2 2020

11.1 -36.8 -43.2

Q3 2020

4.2 44.1 38.3

Q4 2020

-4.2 5.5 10.1

Note: Percent changes are seasonally adjusted annual rates. Data are subject to revision.

The fourth quarter of 2020 is the second consecutive quarter with increases in both output and hours, following historic declines in those measures in the second quarter of 2020. Although output increased 5.5 percent and hours worked increased 10.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, output and hours remain below their fourth-quarter 2019 levels.

From the fourth quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2020, nonfarm business labor productivity increased 2.4 percent, reflecting a 2.6-percent decline in output and a 4.9-percent decline in hours worked.

These data are from the Labor Productivity and Costs program and are seasonally adjusted annual rates, subject to revision. To learn more, see "Productivity and Costs — Fourth Quarter and Annual Averages 2020, Revised.” 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 for all persons, including employees, proprietors, and unpaid family workers.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Nonfarm productivity down 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2021/nonfarm-productivity-down-4-2-percent-in-the-fourth-quarter-of-2020.htm (visited July 29, 2021).

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