Published: Aug 11, 2010 12:10 AM EDT
Updated: Aug 10, 2010 9:10 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - Productivity dropped this spring for the first time in more than a year, a sign that companies may need to hire more workers in the near future.

The Labor Department says worker productivity declined at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the second quarter after posting
large gains throughout 2009. Unit labor costs edged up 0.2 percent in the second quarter, the first increase since the spring of 2009.

Productivity rose by large amounts during the recession. Companies slashed their payrolls and pushed unemployment up to the highest levels in more than two decades. Economists said a slowing in productivity would be welcome development if it translates into more hiring.