According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), hourly compensation in the US business sector increased 4.3% during the January to March period in 2005 – down from a 4.9% hike in the previous quarter. This measure includes wages and salaries, supplements, employer contributions to employee benefit plans, and taxes.
Meanwhile, the hourly compensation of all manufacturing workers rose 4.9% during the first quarter, reflecting a hike of 5.3% in durable goods and 3.9% in nondurable goods, the government said. Because the hourly compensation of manufacturing workers rose more rapidly than output per hour, unit labor costs increased in the first quarter by 0.9 %. This is similar to the 0.8% increase recorded in the fourth quarter of 2004.
In durable goods manufacturing, however, unit labor costs fell in the first quarter of 2005 by 0.9%. All of the increase in manufacturing unit labor costs came from the nondurable goods subsector, where unit labor costs advanced by 2.6%.
Hourly compensation in the non-financial corporate sector advanced 4.4% in the fourth quarter of 2004, and real hourly compensation was up 0.8%. Unit labor costs fell 0.8% in the fourth quarter of 2004 – the first decline in these costs since the fourth quarter of 2003.