Fonte/Source, Wall Street Journal
U.S. employers aren’t yet getting squeezed by workers demanding higher wages.
The employment-cost index, a broad gauge of wage and benefit expenditures, rose a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in the fourth quarter last year, the Labor Department said Friday. That’s down from 0.7% in the two earlier quarters and jibes with other data showing only limited wage pressure across the U.S.
Wages and salaries, which account for about 70% of compensation costs, climbed 0.5%, a slowdown from the third quarter’s 0.8% pace. Benefit costs rose 0.6%, matching the prior quarter.
The data is better than recent hourly earnings figures, which showed wages declining in December despite a postrecession low for the unemployment rate.
“While still quite tame, wages have picked up a little at least–the 2.2% year-on-year pace is up from 1.9% on average in 2013,” said Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “We expect more acceleration, especially if the unemployment rate falls some more–as seems highly likely.”
The Federal Reserve is watching an array of indicators as it weighs when to raise interest rates for the first time since December 2008. Wages are merely one component, but they reinforce two key elements: Inflation remains benign and the labor market is improving but not overheating.