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Economy in Brief

U.S. Employment Cost Index Gain Paced by Benefits Increase
by Tom Moeller  November 19, 2013

The employment cost index for private industry workers increased 0.4% (1.9% y/y) in Q3'13, following an unrevised 0.6% rise in Q2. The result was weaker than consensus expectations for a 0.5% gain.

Benefit costs increased 0.6% (2.0% y/y), the strongest gain since Q4'12. Management, professional & related industry workers realized 0.8% growth (2.1% y/y) in benefits while sales & office workers saw a 0.7% increase (2.4% y/y). Service occupations workers had a 0.5% rise (1.7% y/y) in benefits while  production transportation & materials moving workers had 0.2% growth (1.3% y/y). Health benefits for private industry workers rose 2.7% y/y, roughly half the peak rate of growth in 2010.

Wages & salaries of private industry workers gained 0.3% (1.8% y/y), the weakest rise since Q4'12. Information sector workers saw a 0.5% increase (2.0% y/y) in wages while the education & health services industries realized 0.4% growth (1.8% y/y). Wages in financial activities rose 0.3% (2.1% y/y) but workers in leisure & hospitality had only a 0.1% wage uptick (1.0% y/y).

Total compensation for state & local government workers rose 0.4% (1.7% y/y). That reflected a 0.7% rise (1.9% y/y) for public administration workers and a 0.2% gain (1.4% y/y) in education & health services.   

The employment cost index figures are available in Haver's USECON database. Consensus estimates come from the Action Economics survey, carried in Haver's AS1REPNA database. 

ECI- Private Industry Workers (%) Q3'13 Q2'13 Q1'13 Q3 Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Compensation 0.4 0.6 0.4 1.9 1.9 2.2 1.9
 Wages & Salaries 0.3 0.6 0.5 1.8 1.8 1.7 1.6
 Benefit Costs 0.6 0.4 0.4 2.0 2.2 3.4 2.6
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