(Bloomberg) — The productivity of U.S. workers fell more than projected in the fourth quarter as the economy shrank, pushing labor expenses up and showing companies are approaching the limit of how much efficiency they can wring from employees.

The measure of employee output per hour decreased at a 2% annual rate, the worst performance in almost two years, after a 3.2% gain in the prior three months, a Labor Department report showed Thursday in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 63 economists called for a 1.4% drop. Expenses per worker increased at a 4.5% rate, more than estimated. 

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