THE ECONOMY PRODUCTIVITY TURNS UP SLIGHTLY

THE ECONOMY PRODUCTIVITY TURNS UP SLIGHTLY

The nation's efficiency in churning out goods and services improved slightly in the fourth quarter of last year instead of taking a downturn as earlier estimated, the government said Thursday.

Based on revised figures last week for the gross national product, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said non-farm productivity rose at an annual rate of 0.3 percent from October through December last year instead of declining 0.2 percent as reported in preliminary figures a month ago.The revised figures showed output of goods and services by non-farm businesses - which account for about three-fourths of the nation's economic production - rising by 5.6 percent, the greatest increase in nearly two years, instead of 5.1 percent as reported in the preliminary figures.

The higher output reduced the annual increase in labor costs associated with each unit of goods or services from 3.7 percent to 3.1 percent, the bureau said.

The fourth-quarter changes had little impact on the productivity figures for all of 1987, raising the efficiency gains for the year a tenth of a percentage point from 0.8 percent to 0.9 percent and dropping the unit labor cost increases from 2 percent to 1.9 percent.