The increase in productivity, or the worker output of goods and services per hour was higher than economists anticipated, according to Reuters, and follows a 1.1% gain in the third quarter.
For the year, productivity outside the farm sector increased by 1.8%, the lowest rate since 1995, when productivity rose just 0.9%
In the last three months of 2001, the number of hours workers spent on the job shrank by 3.7%, the largest fall since the first quarter of 1991 when hours worked fell 4.8%, and the third consecutive quarterly drop in hours worked.
Unit labor costs fell by 1.1% over the quarter, also contrary to the expectations of economists polled by Reuters. However, over the whole of 2001, unit labor costs made their biggest jump in a decade, rising by 3.9%.