BLS: Employment Costs Flat in Early 2005

April 29, 2005 ( - The total compensation costs for civilian workers were virtually flat in the December 2004 to March 2005 period over the quarter before, the government reported.

According to the latest Employment Cost Index (ECI), figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), compensation costs were up by 0.7% during the latest quarter – the same as was reported for the September to December 2004 period.

Overall, benefits costs rose by 1.2% in the December 2004 to March 2005 period , ahead of the 0.6% advance for the cost of wages and salaries, BLS said. The rise in benefits cost, therefore, accounted for over 60% of cost increases in the latest period measured.

For private industry workers, benefits costs also accounted for 60% of cost increases, as health insurance costs and nonproduction bonuses representing nearly a third of the compensation costs advance.

For public workers, the rise in benefits comprised 50% of compensation gains through the final three months of the year, with health insurance costs accounting for 25% of the hikes.

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 non-farm private and State and local government workers.