Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wages, Benefits Up Modest 3.6 Percent

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wages, Benefits Up Modest 3.6 Percent

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Americans' wages, salaries and benefits rose a modest 3.6 percent in the year ended June 30, a pace unchanged from a year earlier and the latest evidence that inflation was being kept in check.

"This is basically consistent with the more or less stable inflation picture that we have," maintained Sung Won Sohn, an economist with the Norwest Corp. in Minneapolis. "Inflation is under control."

The Labor Department said Tuesday its Employment Cost Index, considered one of the best gauges of wage inflation pressures, also was little changed from the 3.5 percent increase it posted during the 12 months ended last March.

The wage component in the latest index failed again to keep pace with prices. It rose just 2.8 percent in the year ended in June, compared with a 3 percent advance in the Consumer Price Index.

Wages and salaries, which account for 72 percent of employment costs, had risen 2.9 percent in the year ended in June 1992.

Benefit costs, on the other hand, rose 5.5 percent, slightly faster than the 5.3 percent pace a year earlier.

Sohn attributed a significant portion of the benefit increase to health care costs, which he hoped "will decelerate in the future." The Clinton Administration is preparing an overhaul of the health care system in an attempt to curb rising costs.

The 3.6 percent advance in overall compensation was down appreciably from the 5.5 percent gain in the first quarter of 1990, just before the economy fell into recession.

Analysts maintain that the subsequent economic weakness resulted in reduced compensation gains as businesses met reduced demand for their products by cutting payrolls.

They say that until the economy begins to grow appreciably and generate new demand, workers will have little leverage to boost their wages, salaries and benefits. …

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