DoL: Q4 Labor Costs Dip 1.3%

February 5, 2004 ( - US companies' unit labor costs fell 1.3% in the final quarter of 2003, after a 5.6% third-quarter drop, the government said.

The US Department of Labor (DoL) reported that workers’ hourly compensation – including wages and benefits – grew by 1.3% in the October to December period, on top of a 3.4% growth in the third quarter.

The average hourly compensation for manufacturing workers was up 1.5% in the fourth quarter, reflecting a 0.6% increase in hourly compensation in durable goods manufacturing and a 2.9% hourly compensation increase for non-durable goods manufacturing.

Meanwhile, for the full year 2003, hourly compensation in the business sector was up 3%, an advance over 2002’s advance of 2.1%. The business sector’s unit labor costs for the year 2003 fell 1.2% on top of the 2.5% drop in 2002.

Meanwhile, DoL said that the productivity of America’s workers slowed in the final three months of 2003, advancing 2.7% – a still respectable pace that bodes well for the economy’s strengthening recovery.