Nonfarm business sector labor productivity decreased at a 0.9 percent annual rate during the second quarter of 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, with output and hours rising 2.6 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively. (All quarterly percent changes in this release are seasonally adjusted annual rates.) The decline in output per hour follows five quarters of strong productivity growth. The second-quarter gain in hours worked was the largest since the first quarter of 2006 when hours rose 4.1 percent. From the second quarter of 2009 to the second quarter of 2010, both productivity and output increased 3.9 percent; hours were unchanged (tables A and 2).
This is actually very good news. Why? As productivity continued to increase, companies had less incentive to hire because they could continue to get more with less. Now they are getting less out of their existing workforce, indicating increased hiring is probably needed to get more productivity.