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Manufacturing Productivity Rises 1.1% In Third Quarter

By John S. McClenahen Although it pales in comparison to the quarterly gains posted during 1999 and 2000, productivity in U.S. manufacturing rose 1.1% in this year's July-to-September calendar quarter. That's fractionally better than the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) now-revised 0.9% productivity gain for 2001's April-to-June quarter. The BLS measures manufacturing productivity by comparing output with hours worked. And in numbers adjusted for the events of Sept. 11, the 6.7% decline in U.S. manufacturing output in the third quarter was less steep than the 7.7% decline in the hours people worked. Delving deeper into the data, productivity among automakers and other producers of durable goods rose 2.5% in the third quarter of this year as a 10% decrease in work hours outpaced a 7.7% decline in output. However, the reverse situation prevailed among makers of nondurable goods, with productivity falling 1.3% as output dropped 5.4% and hours worked decreased 4.1%. Among all U.S. manufacturers -- durable-goods producers as well as makers of nondurables -- output now has fallen for four consecutive calendars and hours worked have declined for five quarters.

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