December 14, 2020

U.S. Labor Productivity Rises, But Small Business Optimism Falls


  • Nonfarm business sector labor productivity in the United States increased 4.6 percent in the third quarter of 2020 due to a 43.4 percent rise in output and a 37.1 percent jump in hours worked. The 4.6-percent third quarter gain followed an increase of 10.6 percent during the second quarter. Over the last four quarters, nonfarm business productivity increased four percent.
  • The National Federation of Independent Business’s Small Business Optimism Index declinedfrom 104 in October to 101.4 in November, but is remains above its historical average. Still, small business uncertainty also is historically elevated and only 54 percent of businesses anticipate better conditions over the next six months, down from 64 percent in October. Click here to read the full report.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of job openings was little changed at 6.7 million on the last business day of October. The number of hires were little changed at 5.8 million while total separations increased to 5.1 million. Within separations, the quits rate was unchanged at 2.2 percent while the layoffs and discharges rate increased to 1.2 percent. There were 525,000 manufacturing job openings in October, up from 492,000 in September and a new record high. Click here to read the full report. In other employment-related news: in a sign that the economy is slowing, the number of individuals who filed for U.S. unemployment benefits for the first time rose to 853,000 for the week that ended December 5 from 716,000 the week before. Click here to read the full report.
  • In other news: real average hourly earnings for all U.S. employees increased 0.1 percent from October 2020 to November 2020 and 3.2 percent from November 2019 to November 2020; the S. producer price index advanced 0.1 percent from October 2020 to November 2020 and 0.8 percent year-over-year; the U.S. consumer price index showed U.S. consumer prices rising 0.2 percent in November from October as a 0.4 percent increase in energy costs offset a decrease in food prices.