Consumer Confidence Declines; Wages, Benefits Up 1%, 2-Year Best Quarterly Pace
The Labor Department reported that its Employment Cost Index was up 1% in the third quarter, compared to a 0.9% rise in the April-June period. It was the biggest quarterly increase since a similar 1% rise in the second quarter of 2004.
For the third quarter, benefit costs rose by 1.1 percent, up from a 0.8 percent gain in the second quarter. Wages and salaries were up 0.9 percent, matching the increase in the second quarter.
For the 12 months ending in September, overall compensation costs were up 3.3%, compared to a 3% rise for the 12 months ending in September 2005.
Wages and salaries are up 3.2% over the past year, a significant rise from the 2.3% gain for the 12 months ending in September 2005. Benefit costs, however, were up 3.3% for the year, down from a 5% rise for the year ending in September 2005.
Compensation costs for the private sector rose 0.9% from June to September, after advancing 0.8% in the prior quarter. For state and local government workers, compensation costs increased 1.4% from June to September, after increasing 1.1% for the quarter ended in June.