Employment costs grew at the slowest rate in 32 years of data collection, according to a first-quarter 2014 Labor Department Employment Cost Index report released (link opens as PDF) today .

After increasing 0.5% for fourth-quarter 2013, this quarter's civilian workers employment costs edged up just 0.3%. Analysts had expected another 0.5% rise. Employment cost increases have only dipped to 0.3% twice before: first-quarter 2009 and once for third-quarter 2011. Civilian workers include private industry employees, as well as state and local government civil servants.

Source: BLS.gov. 

In the private sector, services managed to keep employment cost increases to 1.1% over the last 12 months, while management, professional, natural resource, construction, maintenance, production, transportation, and material moving industries all experienced a 1.9% jump in costs. 

From a more long-term perspective, employment costs increased 1.8% for the 12-month period ending March 2014. Diving deeper into components, wages and salaries have grown 1.6% over the past year, while benefit costs are up a larger 2.1%.