Employment Costs Slow In Fourth Quarter 2003

By John S. McClenahen Total compensation costs for civilian workers in the U.S. increased at a seasonally adjusted rate of 0.7% during the final quarter of 2003, three-tenths of a percentage point less than the 1% rate recorded during the third quarter of last year, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Jan. 29. The compensation cost change for private industry during the fourth quarter last year was 0.7%, the same rate as that for all civilian workers. For both private industry and the total civilian workforce, benefit costs increased 1.2% during the fourth quarter, more than double the 0.5% rate for wages and salaries. Among manufacturers, total compensation costs rose 0.5% during the fourth quarter, as wage and salary costs increased 0.3% and benefit costs advanced 0.8%. In comparison, during the third quarter of 2003, total compensation costs for manufacturers rose 0.8%, as wage and salary costs increased 0.4% and benefit costs rose 1.6%.

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