Employee Cost Index Rises 0.7% in Q4

January 28, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The total compensation costs for civilian workers rose by 0.7% from September to December 2004, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a unit of the Department of Labor.

This is slightly lower than the cost increase seen from June to September, the Bureau reported in a news release. During these three months, the total compensation costs rose by 0.9%.

Overall, benefits costs rose by 1.4% in the final three months of 2004, while the cost of wages and salaries grew by 0.4%. These were the smallest quarterly increases in 2004, according to the release.

The rise in benefits cost, therefore, accounted for over 60% of cost increases in the latter quarter of the year. For private industry workers, benefits costs counted for an even more significant 66% of cost increases. Defined benefit retirement plans accounted for nearly a third of the gain in compensation costs for such workers.

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 20% of the gains.

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.