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Manufacturing Productivity Gains Strong For Final '98 Quarter

Although the strong 4.6% rise in U.S. nonfarm business productivity in 1998's final quarter has captured headlines this week, manufacturing productivity was even more impressive. Fourth-quarter 1998 productivity increased at a 5.2% annual rate, one percentage point better than its 4.2% 1997-1998 average, and more than twice the 2.2% 1997-1998 average rate for the nonfarm business sector of the U.S. economy. However, marked differences exist in productivity growth rates for durable and nondurable goods in 1998's final three months. Durable goods manufacturing, which includes such items as autos and appliances, posted an 8.4% increase in productivity. In contrast, nondurable manufacturing, such as food, showed only a 1.4% productivity increase.

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