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Economy in Brief

U.S. Employment Cost Index  Moderates
by Tom Moeller  April 30, 2013

The employment cost index for private industry workers rose 0.3% (1.7% y/y) in Q1'13 versus a downwardly revised 0.4% increase in Q4. The rise compared to expectations for a 0.5% gain as compiled by Bloomberg. The latest y/y increase of 1.7% was the weakest since just after the recession. 

A record 0.3% decline (+1.5% y/y) in benefit costs was the source of the latest moderation in total costs. Benefits amongst goods-producing workers rose 2.1% y/y but for service-producing industry workers they increased just 1.2% y/y. State & local government sector workers realized an improved 3.6% four-quarter rise in benefits.

The increase in private sector wages & salaries picked up q/q to 0.5% (1.7% y/y). Amongst industry groups, wages in the financial industry rose 2.3% over the last four quarters, professional & business services wages rose 2.0% y/y and education and health services rose 1.5% y/y). Wages in leisure & hospitality industries rose 1.0% y/y while state & local government workers also realized a 1.0% gain.

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


ECI- Private Industry Workers (%) Q1'13 Q4'12 Q3'12 Q1 Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Compensation 0.3 0.4 0.4 1.7 1.9 2.2 1.9
 Wages & Salaries 0.5 0.3 0.4 1.7 1.8 1.7 1.6
 Benefit Costs -0.3 0.6 0.6 1.5 2.3 3.4 2.6
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