Labour statistics

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


OECD Unit labour costs continue to fall in the second quarter of 2013


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19/09/2013 - Unit labour costs (ULCs) in OECD countries fell 0.2% in the second quarter of 2013 as labour productivity growth (0.4%) outpaced a rise in labour compensation (0.2%).

The pattern of quarter-on-quarter growth in ULCs remains mixed. For the first time since the fourth quarter of 2011, ULCs declined in the Euro area (minus 0.3%), driven by productivity growth (0.4%) and weak labour compensation growth (0.1%, significantly lower than the 0.9% in the previous quarter). In the United States, ULCs rose marginally (0.1%, compared to minus 1.0% in the previous quarter).

Within the Euro area, ULCs continued to adjust in several countries. ULCs fell in Italy (minus 0.7%) for the first time in six quarters. In France, ULCs stopped growing for the first time in eight quarters. ULCs continued to fall (minus 0.9%) in Portugal and were unchanged in Spain. In Germany, ULCs declined marginally (minus 0.1%).

Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, ULC growth in the OECD area slowed in the second quarter of 2013 (year-on-year growth of 0.9% compared with 1.3% in the first quarter of 2013). Unlike in previous quarters, the continued increase in labour compensation per unit of output was partly offset by positive labour productivity growth.


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

ULC growth slowed in most OECD countries
OECD area, year on year percentage change


ULCs continued to adjust in some Euro area countries
Selected countries, Index, 1999Q1=100


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



Next publication date: mid December 2013

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