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Economy in Brief

U.S. Employment Cost Index Increase Dips
by Tom Moeller  April 27, 2012

The employment cost index for private industry workers rose 0.4% in Q1 for total compensation versus a revised 0.5% Q4 rise, initially reported as 0.4%. The latest increase fell short of expectations for a 0.5% rise as compiled by Bloomberg. The four-quarter gain of 2.1% remained near its highest since Q4'08.

Private sector wages & salaries picked up slightly to 0.5%, 1.9% y/y. Amongst industry groups, wages in the sales & office category rose a quickened 0.8% (2.5% y/y) but wages in production, transportation & materials were unchanged (2.0% y/y). Wages in the service sector rose 0.3% (1.3% y/y).

Benefit costs rose a lessened 0.3%, 2.8% y/y. Benefits amongst production workers fell 1.3% (+2.3% y/y) but within service occupations, they rose a still-firm 0.6% (2.3% y/y). Benefits of management professionals increased 0.4% and 3.0% y/y.

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

ECI - Private Industry Workers (%) Q1'12 Q4'11 Q3'11 Q1 Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Compensation 0.4 0.5 0.4 2.1 2.2 1.9 1.5
 Wages & Salaries 0.5 0.4 0.4 1.9 1.7 1.6 1.5
 Benefit Costs 0.3 0.8 0.3 2.8 3.5 2.6 1.2
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