New Zealand's workers were more productive in the year to March 31, 2013, easily beating productivity rises over the past 17 years.
Labour productivity measures the quantity of goods and services or output produced for each hour of labour. It jumped 2.1 per cent during the period compared to the average increase of 1.6 per cent.
The figures show that while 100 products could have been produced in one hour of labour in 1996, 132 were produced in one hour in 2013.
Productivity is regarded as key to lifting New Zealand's standard of living and is a big driver of gross domestic product - the main indicator of economic activity.
Statistics NZ said the 2.1 per cent lift in labour productivity was driven by both an increase of 1.2 per cent in multifactor productivity and a 0.9 per cent growth in the amount of capital available per worker.
Multifactor productivity measures how efficiently goods and services are produced in the economy. It was up 1.2 per cent last year because goods and services grew faster than the inputs such as hours of labour, and capital, such as land and buildings, used to produce them, Statistics NZ national accounts manager Michele Lloyd said.
An improvement in productivity shows more efficient production and is often because of technological changes, organisational changes, or economies of scale.
From 1996 to 2013, labour productivity grew more in Australia than in New Zealand, up by an average of 2.1 per cent to 1.6 per cent a year, respectively.
Over the same period, Australia's annual average output growth was also higher, at 3.5 per cent compared with 2.6 per cent in New Zealand, Statistics NZ said.
- Fairfax Media