Buried in yesterday's March quarter national accounts figures was a story that the government, business and the media neglected in their commentary on the GDP figures -- one that raises serious questions about the sluggishness of Australian business. 

While some analysis correctly pointed out that the share of income going to labour fell to an all-time low of 51.5% -- the lowest since 2009 and, before the financial crisis, 1964 -- the most fascinating story was real unit labour costs, or RULCs (which are the cost of labour per unit of output). The RULC index fell to its lowest level since the figure was introduced in the December 1985 quarter -- down 2.5% in the March quarter from December and 6.1% from the March quarter of 2016. In the non-farm sector, they fell 2.4% and down 6.2% compared to the March 2016 quarter.