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Dispatches The Buzz

American productivity: U.S. workers continue to rack up impressive gains in how much they produce per hour of work, with the Labor Department reporting last week that productivity grew at a 5.3 percent rate between April and June, the highest gain in 17 years. The figure represented a sharp gain over the 1.9 percent productivity rate increase in the first quarter of the year. Analysts predicted that the strong numbers should ease inflation fears at the Federal Reserve, since higher productivity means wages can rise without affecting overall prices. Birth rate among teens: The National Center for Health Statistics last week reported that America's birth rate among teens dropped to its lowest level since the government started tracking such statistics 60 years ago. Births to girls aged 15-19 dropped to 49.6 per 1,000 in 1999, down 3 percent from 1998 and 20 percent from 1991. According to the NCHS, the fall in birth rates has occurred across racial lines. However, pro-family advocates noted that the pregnancy rate among teens is about twice as high as the birth rate for teens, meaning that nearly half of all pregnancies among teens end in abortion.