US wages and salaries increased 0.7% in Q3 2004

Total compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.9% from June to September 2004, seasonally adjusted, the same as from March to June 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Wage and salary costs increased 0.7%, while benefit costs rose 1.1%, the smallest increase in benefit costs in 2004. The Employment Cost Index (ECI), a component of the National Compensation Survey, measures quarterly changes in compensation costs, which include wages, salaries, and employer costs for employee benefits for nonfarm private and State and local government workers.

Rises in benefit costs accounted for a little less than 40% of the increase in compensation costs for civilian workers from June to September 2004. Among State and local government workers, benefit costs contributed 55% of compensation gains during the June-to-September period, with defined benefit retirement costs accounting for one-fourth of the gain in compensation costs. Among private industry workers, benefit costs were about three-tenths of compensation gains during the quarter, comparable to the% of total compensation costs contributed by benefits.