WASHINGTON (AP) - Worker productivity grew at the fastest pace in nearly six years in the spring while labor costs fell by the most in nine years, as companies slashed costs to survive the recession.
The Labor Department says productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, rose at an annual rate of 6.6 percent in the April-June quarter, the largest advance since the summer of 2003. Economists expected an increase of 6.4 percent, matching the government's initial estimate last month.
Labor costs fell at an annual rate of 5.9 percent. That's the largest drop since the second quarter of 2000, and slightly bigger than the 5.8 percent decline estimated a month ago.
The government also says orders to U.S. factories rose less than expected in July as reduced demand for petroleum products offset a jump in orders for aircraft and other transportation goods.
The Commerce Department says factory orders rose 1.3 percent in July, the fifth increase in the past six months. But that's below analysts' expectations of a 2.2 percent increase, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.