The Labor Department reports that productivity in the United States rose by 5.5 percent in the second quarter of 2009.
It's unusual for productivity to rise during a downturn in the economy. Productivity declined in the first three quarters of the 1980s recession and during the 1990-1991 slump.
This time, according to economist Brian Bethune of IHS Global Insight, new computer systems let manufacturers discover drops in customer demand early on. When they did, they quickly pared payrolls and shifts. IHS now predicts that they will have to hire more workers as consumer demand picks up in the next few months.
In addition to computer predictions helping companies to stay on top of the recession, employees have played a big role in the productivity increase. They have been willing to take on more work in order to keep companies going during the recession.