Compensation costs edge up

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Published: February 1,2010

Tags: employment costs

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.5 percent, seasonally adjusted, for the three-month period ending Dec. 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, 0.5 percent.

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 1.5 percent. This was smaller than the 2.6 percent increase for the 12-month period ending in Dec. 2008. Wages and salaries also increased 1.5 percent for the current 12-month period, slowing from a 2.7 percent increase for the 12-month period ending in Dec. 2008. Benefit costs rose 1.5 percent, compared with a 2.2 percent increase for the 12-month period ending December 2008.

Compensation costs increased 1.2 percent, the same as last quarter’s 12-month percent increase. These are the smallest percent changes published since the series began in 1979. The wage and salary series increased 1.4 percent for the current 12-month period, the same as the Sept. 2009 12-month percent increase. These are also the smallest published percent changes since the series began in 1975. The cost of benefits increased 1 percent for the 12-month period ending Dec. 2009. This is the smallest published percent change since the series began in 1979. In Sept. 2009, benefits increased 1.1 percent. Employer costs for health benefits increased 4.4 percent for the 12-month period ending Dec. 2009. In Dec. 2008, the 12-month percent change was 3.5 percent.

Among occupational groups, compensation cost increases for private industry workers for the 12-month period ending Dec. 2009 ranged from 0.7 percent for management, professional and related occupations to 1.9 percent for production, transportation and material moving occupations.

Among industries, compensation cost increases for private industry workers for the current 12-month period ranged from 0.7 percent for construction and professional and business services to 2 percent for education and health services.

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