System of unit labour cost, OECD - Updated: December 2013


OECD Unit labour costs stable in the third quarter of 2013


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19/12/2013 - Unit labour costs (ULCs) in the OECD area were unchanged in the third quarter of 2013 from the previous quarter, with growth in labour productivity (0.4%) only slightly outpacing a rise in labour compensation (0.3%).

The pattern of ULCs growth across economies remains mixed. ULCs increased slightly in the Euro area (up 0.1%) while they fell in the United States (by 0.2%) and continued to decline in Japan (by 0.6%).

Within the Euro area, ULC growth patterns in the third quarter of 2013 tend to confirm some slowing in the rebalancing process observed over the past four years in some countries. ULCs declined at relatively low rates in the third quarter of 2013 in Spain (by 0.2%) following positive growth rates in the previous two quarters. In Portugal, ULCs fell by 0.4 per cent compared with a decline of 1.9% in the previous quarter. ULCs remained constant in Italy while they continued to rise in France (up 0.4%) and to increase marginally in Germany (up 0.1%).

Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, ULC growth in the OECD area continued to slow in the third quarter of 2013 (to 1.0% compared with 1.3% in the second quarter of 2013). This reflects a continued year-on-year increase in labour compensation per unit of labour input that was partly offset by positive year-on-year labour productivity growth. 

Early Estimates of Quarterly Unit Labour Costs
Seasonally adjusted data, Total economy

Annual ULC growth continues to slow
in most OECD countries
Year-on-year percentage change


In the Euro area, signs of slowing adjustment in ULCs
Index, 1999Q1=100


‌ ‌‌‌

‌ Source: OECD Early Estimates of Quarterly ULC Indicators – Total economy



Next publication date: mid March 2014

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