Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wage, Benefit Growth Slows to 4.6%

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wage, Benefit Growth Slows to 4.6%

Article excerpt

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans' wages, salaries and benefits rose 4.6 percent over the past 12 months, much less than the previous year, the government said Tuesday.

The Labor Department said the employment cost index, considered one of the best gauges of inflationary wage pressures, rose 4.6 percent for the year ending in March 1991. A year ago, wages and benefit costs had soared 5.5 percent for a similar 12-month period.

The government noted that the increase for the past 12 months was below the 4.9 percent increase for the year ending in December. It ascribed the more moderate increase to a marked slowdown in benefit costs.

While moderate increases in compensation costs are good for U.S. businesses, they often hold workers' paychecks from keeping pace with inflation.

Inflation shot up 6.1 percent last year, well over the 4.9 percent increases workers received. So far this year, consumer prices have isen at an annual rate of 2.4 percent. For the January-March period, workers' compensation costs increased 1.2 percent.

Wages and salaries increased 4.2 percent for the year ending in March, compared with 4.3 percent for the 12-month period ending in December. For the January-March period, wages and salaries rose 1.2 percent.

For the past year, there was a substantial slowdown in benefit cost increases, which rose 5.9 percent for 12 months ending in March, down from the 6.7 percent spurt for the year ending in December.

In the first quarter of 1991, benefit costs increased 1.4 percent, well below the 2 percent increase for the same three-month period a year ago.

The slowdown in benefit costs occurred as relatively large increses in health insurance costs and workers' compensation insurance rates were dampened by lower increases in pension costs and non-production bonuses, the government said. …

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