Worker productivity growth slowed in 4th quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) ? Workers were more efficient in the final three months of last year, but their gains in productivity were slower than during previous three months. Slower productivity growth can be a good sign for hiring if economic growth picks up.

The Labor Department says worker productivity rose at a 0.7 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter. That’s below a downwardly revised 1.9 percent in the previous quarter.

A slowdown in productivity growth is bad for corporate profits. But it could be good for the economy, if it suggests companies aren’t able to squeeze more output from their existing staffs.

Productivity jumped after the recession, largely because companies boosted output without hiring much.