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An incomplete look at U.S. productivity in the final three months of 2018 showed a 1.3% increase in the manufacturing sector, up from 1.1% in the third quarter. Manufacturing output rose 2.3% and hours worked were up 1%. Hours worked for all U.S. workers rose 1.6%. The preliminary report lacks key figures on unit-labor costs and how much productivity rose for all nonfarm businesses owing to the recently ended government shutdown. A full report won't be available until later this month. Total U.S. productivity rose a slightly revised 2.2% in the third quarter and 3% in the second quarter, but it's been weak for years. In manufacturing, for example, productivity has risen less than 1% in each of the past eight years. By contrast, manufacturing productivity increased an average of 2.6% a year from 1987 to 2018. Higher productivity is the key to a rising standard of living and a stronger economy. Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit for more information on this news.