US productivity revised up to 2.9 percent rate

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by Laura Matovina

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. workers were more productive this summer than initially thought, while costing their companies less.

The Labor Department says productivity grew at an annual rate of 2.9 percent from July through September. That's the fastest pace in two years and up from an initial estimate of 1.9 percent. Labor costs dropped at a rate of 1.9 percent, more than the 0.1 percent dip initially estimated.

Productivity was revised higher because economic growth was faster in the third quarter than first estimated, while hours worked were unchanged. Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work.

The report suggests companies are finding ways to squeeze more out of their existing workers, a bad sign for hiring. Still, productivity is up a weak 1.7 percent compared with a year ago.

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