Thursday, April 30, 2015

Employment Cost Index increases 0.7% in Q1, Up 2.6% YoY

by Bill McBride on 4/30/2015 09:09:00 AM

Note: On a monthly basis, the focus is on “Average Hourly Earnings” from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) (aka "Establishment") employment report.

There are also two quarterly sources for earnings data: 1) “Hourly Compensation,” from the BLS’s Productivity and Costs; and 2) the Employment Cost Index which includes wage/salary and benefit compensation. All three data series are different.

Here is the Q1 ECI from the BLS: EMPLOYMENT COST INDEX - MARCH 2015

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.7 percent, seasonally adjusted, for the 3-month period ending March 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Wages and salaries (which make up about 70 percent of compensation costs) increased 0.7 percent, and benefits (which make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation) increased 0.6 percent.

Compensation costs for civilian workers increased 2.6 percent for the 12-month period ending March 2015, rising from the March 2014 increase in compensation costs of 1.8 percent. Wages and salaries increased 2.6 percent for the 12-month period ending March 2015, which was higher than the 1.6-percent increase in March 2014. Benefit costs increased 2.7 percent for the 12-month period ending March 2015, compared with a 2.1-percent increase for the 12-month period ending March 2014.
Compensation and Wages ECI Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the year-over-year change in Total Compensation and Wages and Salaries using the quarterly wage data from the Employment Cost Index.  Both increased 2.6 year-over-year in Q1 and suggest compensation is increasing.