Comp Costs Flat in March to June Period

July 29, 2005 ( - Total compensation costs remained flat in the March to June period over the prior quarter, new government data shows.

Data from the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed a 0.7% hike during both periods.

The BLS said that benefit costs between March and June rose 0.8%, compared with the gain for wages and salaries of 0.6%. Increases in benefit costs accounted for over 35% of the hike in compensation costs for civilian workers from March to June 2005.

Among private industry workers, benefit costs contributed nearly 35% of compensation gains during the quarter; compared with nearly 60% from December 2004 to March 2005. Health insurance costs constituted about 10% of the compensation gains during the quarter.

Among state and local government workers, benefit costs comprised nearly one-half of compensation cost gains during the March to June period, virtually unchanged from the December to March quarter. Health insurance costs represented nearly one-third of the gain in compensation costs from March to June 2005, the BLS data showed.

Compensation costs for the private sector rose 0.6% from March to June 2005, identical to the gain in the prior quarter. For state and local government workers, compensation costs rose 0.7% in June, compared with a gain of 1% for the quarter ended in March.

Benefit costs advanced 0.8% for civilian workers in the June 2005 quarter, moderating from the gain of 1.2% in the March quarter. Meanwhile, private sector benefit costs rose 0.8% for the June quarter, following the 1.1% gain in the previous quarter. Benefit costs for state and local government workers increased 1.2% in the June quarter, compared with a 1.5% gain in the prior quarter.

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 civilian workers.