US labour costs increase as expected for the third quarter

Fast food workers protestScott Olson / Getty ImagesDemonstrators gather in front of a McDonald’s restaurant to call for an increase in minimum wage on April 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.

The employment cost index (ECI) came in at 0.6%, right in line with the expected rise. Year-over-year growth was 2.3%, in line with the previous quarter’s rise.

The ECI is a comprehensive measure of employee wages and benefits from the Bureau of Labour Statistics, essentially the total labour cost for employers. It is a fuller picture of wage pressures than the monthly average hourly earnings.

Wages and salaries for civilian workers (which makes up 70% of the index) increased by 0.5% in the third quarter, slightly down from the 0.6% in the second quarter. Benefits, however, jumped from the prior quarter to 0.7% from 0.5% in the second quarter.

The ECI appears to confirm a long-term trend of building wage pressure in the US economy.

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