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Economy in Brief

2Q'04 Employment Cost Index As Expected
by Tom Moeller July 29, 2004

The employment cost index for private industry workers rose 1.0% last quarter, about in line with Consensus expectations for a 0.9% gain. The rate of increase eased slightly from 1.1% in 1Q but the year to year rise of 4.0% was up from just 3.2% in 2002.

Benefit cost inflation in 2Q fell to 1.7% from the elevated 2.6% 1Q rate of increase, but the year to year rise of 7.3% was the fastest since 1Q 1984. The cost of health benefits y/y eased to 8.1%, the slowest since early 2001.

Wages and salaries, which account for roughly 70% of the compensation index, rose the same 0.6% as in 1Q04.

ECI- Private Industry Workers 2Q'04 1Q'04 Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Compensation 1.0% 1.1% 4.0% 4.0% 3.2% 4.2%
  Wages & Salaries 0.6% 0.6% 2.6% 3.0% 2.7% 3.8%
  Benefit Costs 1.7% 2.6% 7.3% 6.4% 4.7% 5.1%
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