Business Week Index: THE WEEK AHEAD
BusinessWeek Index: THE WEEK AHEAD
PRODUCTIVITY & COSTS
Tuesday, Feb. 7, 10 a.m. -- Output per hour worked in the nonfarm sector
probably was unchanged or fell slightly in the fourth quarter. Although
economic output seems to have grown robustly, so did total hours worked as
indicated by surging job growth and the longer workweek. The expected weakness
at yearend means that productivity grew by about 2% in 1994 after a 1.5%
increase in 1993. In the factory sector, productivity is still going strong,
with a likely advance of about 1.5%, at an annual rate, in the fourth quarter.
In the third quarter, nonfarm productivity grew 3.1%, with manufacturing
increasing 3.5%. Unit labor costs in the nonfarm sector probably rose at an
annual rate of about 3% last quarter, after no change in the third period, but
factory unit costs most likely slid for the fifth consecutive quarter. The
slack showing of productivity at the end of 1994 will rev up the debate over
the structural uptrend in productivity in the U.S.
Tuesday, Feb. 7 -- Consumers probably added about $10.5 billion in new debt in
December, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by MMS
International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. The expected increase would be a
bit below the $11.6 billion in October and $12.9 billion in November. The hefty
accumulation of new borrowing suggests that the holiday shopping season was
significantly financed by credit cards.
PRODUCER PRICE INDEX
Friday, Feb. 10, 8:30 a.m. -- Producer prices of finished goods probably
increased by 0.4% in January, says the MMS forecast. Most likely, suppliers
used the first of the year to pass along price markups. Excluding food and
energy, core prices likely also increased by 0.4% in January. In December, both
the total PPI and the core index edged up only 0.2%. However, the Labor Dept.
is scheduled to release new seasonal factors to the PPI data that may change
the December increases.