Fourth-Quarter Productivity Rises 1.6%

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Fourth-quarter U.S. worker productivity rose 1.6%, matching the level for the full year but lower than originally estimated, the Labor Department said Tuesday.The department last month had estimated that fourth-quarter productivity grew 3%. Economists had expected the fourth-quarter rate to rise at a 1.5% annual rate, Bloomberg reported.Among manufacturers, productivity rose 2.2% following a 5.9% rate in the third quarter.Productivity is a measure of how much an employee produces for every hour of work.Labor costs jumped 6.6%, reflecting year-end bonus payments. When worker efficiency improves at a slower pace and labor becomes more expensive, companies may raise prices in order to guard their profits, contributing to more rapid inflation.