After worker productivity fell by a disappointing 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, it made up lost ground in the first three months of 2013, climbing back 0.7 percent.
The news comes as part of the latest round of data from the Department of Labor, and came just short of analysts' expectations for a 0.9 percent increase in productivity, MarketWatch reports.
The DOL report noted that productivity, or the amount of output per hour of work, rose alongside an annual output increase of 2.5 percent while the number of hours worked increased 1.8 percent. It also came as unit labor costs increased 0.5 percent due to a hike in wages, which rose 1.2 percent from the previous quarter. When compared with the first quarter of 2012, productivity climbed 0.9 percent, with output rising 2.5 percent and hours worked up 1.5 percent.
"Output growth was robust in both manufacturing subsectors, while virtually all hours growth occurred in durable manufacturing," the report read, noting that productivity in the manufacturing industry rose by 3.8 percent last quarter.
According to MarketWatch, analysts generally consider the productivity reading to be one of the most important barometers of the health of the country. When employers can improve efficiency, it typically leads to higher profits, and in turn more hiring and better wages for all employees. Typically, the countries with the highest productivity readings have also been the wealthiest.
Unfortunately, productivity growth in the U.S. has been spotty in the past few years. After jumping between 2007 and 2009 - when the recession forced companies to eek more work out of fewer employees - the leaps in productivity have given way to incremental increases. The latest reading indicates productivity is rising at less than half of the historical average since World War II.
To maintain productivity, helping workers were more productive, many companies are turning to new labor solutions that focus on employee retention and performance.