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Economy in Brief

U.S. Employment Cost Index Increases Y/Y
by Tom Moeller  April 29, 2011

The employment cost index for private industry workers rose 0.5% in Q1 for total compensation after an upwardly-revised 0.5% Q4'10 rise, initially reported as 0.4%. The Q1 increase matched expectations as tallied by Bloomberg. The four-quarter gain of 2.0% was nearly its highest in two years. 

Private sector wages & salaries rose 0.4% for the fourth straight quarter, up 1.6% y/y. Amongst occupational groups, wages of management and professional workers grew 1.8% y/y while those of sales & office workers actually decelerated modestly to 1.7%. In the factory sector wages rose an improved 1.8% but in services they decelerated to 1.6%. In the government sector, state & local workers saw wage growth remain at the record low 1.2% y/y, down from the 2007 high of 3.8%.

Benefit costs increased an improved 1.2% and the four-quarter gain rose to 2.9%, more-than-double the 2009 increase. Modest, yearly improvement amongst industry groups was widespread including a 4.2% y/y gain for factory workers and 2.9% for those in service occupations. State & local government workers realized a slightly improved 3.3% increase y/y.

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

ECI - Private Industry Workers(%) Q1 '11 Q4 '10 Q3 '10 Q1 Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Compensation 0.5 0.5 0.4 2.0 1.9 1.4 2.9
 Wages & Salaries 0.4 0.4 0.4 1.6 1.6 1.6 3.0
 Benefit Costs 1.2 0.5 0.6 2.9 2.6 1.2 2.6
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