October 31, 2012
The Department of Labor announced new numbers for its quarterly Employment Cost Index today, showing that labor expenses continue to rise over the long term.
On a quarterly basis, seasonally adjusted employment cost inflation fell 10 basis points to 0.4%. The increase in the previous quarter was 0.5%. However, the Labor Department's most recent numbers show an overall bump in annual seasonally adjusted costs. Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 2% for the12 months ending in September. That's above a 1.7% 12-month seasonally adjusted number from the previous quarter.
The index measures two components of employee cost: wages/salaries and benefits. Wages and salaries make up about 70% of compensation costs and increased 0.3% in the most recent quarter. Benefits account for 30% of employment costs, and jumped 0.8% in the quarter.
The increases vary widely across sectors. Sales and office workers' compensation increased 2.4% over the past year, while accommodation and food services nudged up a mere 0.7%. No sector's employment costs decreased compared to last year.