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Economy in Brief

U.S. Employment Cost Index Increases Y/Y
by Tom Moeller  January 28, 2011

The employment cost index for private industry workers held at a 0.4% increase in Q4 for total compensation. However, the four-quarter gain improved moderately to 2.0%, its highest in two years. Private sector wages & salaries continued steady at 0.4% as the y/y gain ticked up to 1.6%. Among occupational groups, wages of management and professional workers held steady at 0.4% (1.7% y/y) while those of sales & office workers improved to 0.6% (1.9% y/y). In the government sector, state & local workers saw wages grow an improved 0.5% last quarter but the y/y gain of 1.2% was a record low.

Benefit costs grew a steady 0.4% last quarter but the four-quarter gain improved to 2.8%, more-than-double last year's increase. Modest, yearly improvement amongst industry groups was widespread including a 2.6% gain for sales & office workers, 3.3% for natural resource, construction & maintenance workers and 2.3% for those in service occupations. State & local government workers realized a diminished (and record low) 2.7% increase for the year.

The employment cost index figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

ECI - Private Industry Workers (%) Q4 '10 Q3 '10 Q2 '10 Q4 Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Compensation 0.4 0.4 0.5 2.0 1.8 1.5 2.8
 Wages & Salaries 0.4 0.4 0.5 1.7 1.6 1.5 3.0
 Benefit Costs 0.4 0.5 0.5 2.8 2.6 1.2 2.6
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