The numbers: U.S. productivity rose at a 6.6% annual clip in the fourth quarter, the Labor Department said Thursday.
Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had projected a 4.4% rise. Productivity had fallen a revised 5% in the prior three months.
U.S. productivity rose 1.9% in 2021, down from a 2.4% pace in the prior calendar year.
Unit-labor costs, a key measure of wages, rose at a 0.3% rate in the fourth quarter, down from a revised 9.3% surge in the third quarter.
Key details: The gain in productivity came as output rose at a 9.2% rate in the fourth quarter while hours worked rose 2.4%.
Big picture: Economists say that it has been hard to get a grip on underlying trends in productivity during the pandemic as the data has been extraordinarily volatile. There is a sense that workers and business have become more productive as they switched to working from home.