US productivity jumps 3 percent in third quarter

In this Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, photo, workers build an apartment and retail complex in Nashville, Tenn. On Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, the Labor Departmen

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. worker productivity rose 3 percent in the third quarter, the best showing in three years, while labor costs fell for a second straight quarter.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that the increase in productivity in the July-September rose sharply from the 1.5 percent increase in the second quarter and a scant 0.1 percent rise in the first three months of the year. Labor costs fell 0.2 percent after an even bigger 1.2 percent decline in the second quarter.

The third quarter figure for productivity was unchanged from an initial estimate while labor costs were initially estimated to have risen by 0.5 percent.

Economists are hopeful that the upturn in productivity may be a sign this key measure of living standards is improving after a prolonged period of weakness.