US employment costs climbed steadily in first quarter - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

US employment costs climbed steadily in first quarter

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By MATT OTT
Associated Press
   
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Wages and benefits paid to U.S. civilian workers grew steadily in the first three months of the year.
   
The Labor Department says that total compensation was up 0.8 percent in the first quarter, slightly faster than 0.5 growth in the last quarter of 2016.
   
Wages and salaries, which account for 70 percent of compensation costs, rose 0.8 percent. Benefit costs, which cover pensions and health insurance, increased 0.7 percent.
   
In the past year, salaries and benefits have risen 2.4 percent. That's better than the 2.2 percent for last quarter, but below the roughly 3.5 percent generally considered consistent with a healthy economy.
 
The report -- known as the Employment Cost Index -- has shown steady improvement as the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.5 percent.
 

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