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Compensation costs on the rise

WASHINGTON — Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, for the three-month period ending Sept. 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Both components of compensation — wages and salaries (which make up about 70 percent of compensation) and benefits (which make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation) — increased the same amount, 0.4 percent.

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 1.5 percent for the 12-month period ending Sept. 2009. This was smaller than the 2.9 percent increase for the 12-month period ending in Sept. 2008. Wages and salaries increased 1.5 percent for the current 12-month period, slowing from a 3.1-percent increase for the 12-month period ending in Sept. 2008. Benefit costs rose 1.6 percent, down from a 2.6-percent increase for the 12-month period ending Sept. 2008.

Compensation costs, wages and salaries and benefit costs decelerated for private industry workers for the 12-month period ending Sept. 2009, registering the smallest increases since each series began, but the differences were not statistically different from last quarter. Compensation costs increased 1.2 percent, the smallest percent change published since the series began in 1980. The wage and salary series, which began in 1975, increased 1.4 percent for the current 12-month period. The cost of benefits, which have been measured since 1980, increased 1.1 percent for the 12-month period ending Sept. 2009. Employer costs for health benefits increased 4.7 percent for the 12-month period ending Sept. 2009. In Sept. 2008, the 12-month percent change was 3.9 percent.

Among occupational groups, compensation cost increases for private industry workers for the 12-month period ending Sept. 2009 ranged from 0.8 percent for sales and office workers to 2.1 percent for service occupations.

Among industries, compensation cost increases for private industry workers for the current 12-month period ranged from 0.7 percent for information to 2.1 percent for education and health services.

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