OECD Unit labour costs up 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013
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20/03/2014 - Unit labour costs (ULCs) in the OECD area increased marginally (by 0.1%) in the fourth quarter of 2013, following two successive quarters of stability. In the fourth quarter, growth in labour compensation per unit of labour input (0.5%) slightly outpaced growth in labour productivity (GDP per person employed) (0.4%).
ULCs in the OECD area as a whole have been relatively flat throughout 2013, reflecting broad stability in both labour costs and labour productivity. The pattern differs, however, across OECD countries.
Relative to the previous quarter, ULCs fell in the fourth quarter of 2013 (minus 0.2%) in the Euro area in the fourth quarter of 2013, driven by flat labour costs and moderate gains in labour productivity (0.2%). In the United States, ULCs increased marginally (by 0.1%), with continued robust productivity growth (0.6%) offsetting rising labour costs (0.8%). In Japan, ULCs rose more significantly (0.7%) in the last quarter of 2013, following declines in the previous four quarters, mainly due to falls in labour productivity (minus 0.3%).
Within the Euro area, ULCs declined significantly in Portugal (minus 6.5%), almost exclusively driven by falling labour costs. ULCs also fell in Spain (minus 0.4), with the fall in labour costs outpacing the decrease in labour productivity. ULCs also decreased slightly in Italy (by 0.1%), due to strong productivity gains (0.6%), while they continued to rise in France (0.1%) and Germany (0.2%), although at a slower rate than in the previous quarter.
Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, ULCs in the OECD area fell in the fourth quarter of 2013 (minus 0.1%, compared with a 0.9% increase in the third quarter of 2013).
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
Mixed signs of
adjustment in ULCs in the Euro area
Source: OECD Early Estimates of Quarterly ULC Indicators – Total economy