U.S. Shutdown Robs Wednesday's Productivity Report of Main Gauge

(Bloomberg) -- The Labor Department will publish new data on U.S. productivity Wednesday, though the report will lack the main measure because of the government shutdown.

The fourth-quarter productivity and costs release due at 8:30 a.m. in Washington will include manufacturing productivity for the period, though not the headline gauge of nonfarm business productivity or figures on unit labor costs, according to a fact sheet from the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While Labor remained open during the shutdown, some of its reports incorporate data from other agencies. That means the nonfarm productivity measure most economists watch as the main gauge can’t be updated because it relies on gross domestic product data from the Commerce Department, which was closed and hasn’t released the fourth-quarter report on GDP.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis has yet to announce a new date for the GDP report. The productivity report’s manufacturing output figures are derived from other data from Commerce, Labor and the Federal Reserve.

The last productivity report, released Dec. 6 for third-quarter revisions, showed efficiency gains posted the best back-to-back quarters since 2015. The nonfarm gauge increased at a 2.3 percent annualized rate in the July-September period, and Wednesday’s report will include any additional revisions to that number. Unit labor costs -- a key inflation input that the Federal Reserve monitors closely -- rose 0.9 percent.

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