Productivity grows at 2.5 percent rate in spring, slowest pace since late 2002

Thursday, September 2nd 2004, 6:15 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Workers' productivity increased at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the spring, the smallest gain since late 2002, reflecting the economy's slowdown.

The increase in productivity _ the amount an employee produces for every hour on the job _ was down from an initial estimate of a 2.9 percent growth rate for the April-to-June quarter and marked a deceleration from the 3.7 percent pace posted in the first three months of this year, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

The new reading on second-quarter productivity was slower than the 2.8 percent pace some analysts were forecasting.

A major factor restraining the increase in productivity in the second quarter was a big slowdown in overall production. Gross domestic product, which measures the value of all goods and services produced within the United States, rose at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the second quarter, compared with a 4.5 percent growth rate in the first quarter.

Separately, the number of new people signing up for unemployment benefits rose for the second week in a row, reflecting the lingering impact of Hurricane Charley, the department said in a second report.

For the week ending Aug. 28, new applications increased by a seasonally adjusted 19,000 to 362,000, the highest level since April 10. A little less than half of the rise was blamed on the storm, which ripped through Florida on Aug. 13, a Labor Department analyst said.

Economists were expecting claims to go down.