Employment Costs Up 0.8%

April 25, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The employment cost index, a key inflation gauge, increased by 0.8% over the first quarter of 2002, down from a seasonally adjusted 1% rise in the previous quarter, figures from the Department of Labor (DoL) show.

The first-quarter increase in total compensation for civilian workers was the smallest since a 0.4% gain posted in the first quarter of 1999.

The Employment Cost Index is a component of the National Compensation Survey and measures changes in compensation costs, which include wages, salaries, and employer costs for employee benefits.

Over the quarter, the wages and salaries component of the index increased by 0.8% in the first quarter, slightly slower than the 0.9% rise recorded in the previous quarter.

Benefit costs, such as health insurance, outpaced the gains in wages and salaries, increasing by 1% compared to the 1.2% increase recorded over the previous quarter. Still, this was the smallest gain since the third quarter of 2000.