By
updated 3/7/2012 8:53:01 AM ET 2012-03-07T13:53:01

U.S. workers were more productive at the end of last year, although the gains in productivity slowed from this summer. That could signal that companies are ready to hire more workers.

The Labor Department says productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, rose at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the October-December quarter. The second and final estimate was slightly up from preliminary estimate of 0.7 percent. But it was just half growth in the July-September quarter.

Labor costs increased at a 2.8 percent rate in the fourth quarter, slower than the 3.9 percent rise in the third quarter. With millions of people still out of work, economists say there is little danger that wage pressures will push inflation higher.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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