WASHINGTON — U.S. nonfarm productivity rose less than expected in the first quarter of this year, increasing by 0.7% on a significant pickup in output and a healthy growth in hours worked, preliminary data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Thursday showed.

As the increase in productivity growth was less than the rise in hourly compensation, unit labor costs rose by a mere 0.5% — this after a downwardly revised 4.4% increase the previous quarter. The increase matched the median expectation in an MNI survey of analysts.

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