Employment Cost Index: Benefit Costs Rising Faster Than Wages

Inflation in wages is not really present right now. A report for the third quarter showed that the Employment Cost Index slipped to +0.4% from +0.5% in the second quarter. Bloomberg was calling for a reading of +0.5% today, but that appears to be rounded up as the range was 0.4% to 0.5% for the third quarter. Dow Jones also had a consensus of 0.5% for the third quarter.

Wages and salaries fell to a 0.3% gain in the third quarter after a gain of 0.4% in the second quarter. The cost of benefits were up by 0.8% after a gain of 0.6% in the second quarter. On a year-ago basis, wages and salaries are up by 1.7% and the cost of benefits are up by 2.6%.

Today’s report is ahead of Friday’s nonfarm payrolls and unemployment, but as it is a third-quarter report, this is not going to have any impact on Friday’s report. This is also a low-impact report because so many reports on wages and unit labor costs have already been seen.