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Worker Productivity Grew at 2.9% Annual Rate in Q3

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Companies are finding ways to squeeze more out of workers. Third-quarter productivity grew at an annual rate of 2.9 percent, the fastest pace in two years, higher than most economists expected.

Productivity is measured as the amount of output per hour of work.

“I think this is a very long-term trend that’s gotten maybe a little bit extreme in terms of companies trying to mine their workforces for more productivity,” said Michael Santoli of Yahoo! Finance. “They’re replacing people with technology. It’s been going on for a long time, but at this point I do think the fiscal cliff debate – the drama, the perceived uncertainty of how things are going to be next year – is just kind of operating as an excuse for executives not to do very much in the way of both hiring and buying new equipment.”

While high productivity is a good sign for corporate profits, it can be discouraging for people searching for a job.

“The standard operating mode of companies right now is to try to first see if you can do without adding an extra body before you actually make that hire.”

Some economists expect worker productivity to slow for the remainder of the year and throughout 2013.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio