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U.S. worker productivity climbs 2.5% in second quarter

U.S. worker productivity climbs 2.5% in second quarter
General Motors Co. employees at the GM assembly plant in Flint, Mich. (Jeffrey Sauger / Bloomberg)

The productivity of the U.S. workforce increased in the second quarter, following a sharp decline at the beginning of the year as severe weather froze output.

Nonfarm productivity climbed 2.5% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate during the April to June period, the Labor Department said Friday. The rise beat expectations and comes after a 4.5% productivity decline in the first quarter — the largest drop in more than three decades.

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Economists had expected a 1.5% gain in productivity, or output per hour.

The economy contracted in the first quarter, a pullback that economists have attributed to severe weather across much of the country. In the second quarter, the nation's total economic output, or gross domestic product, climbed at a 4% annual rate.

The Labor Department said that last quarter output increased faster than hours worked, rising 5.2% compared to a 2.7% gain in hours.

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