Published: Sat, November 03, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Wages Rise 3.1 Percent, Fastest in a Decade

Wages Rise 3.1 Percent, Fastest in a Decade

Average hourly earnings are forecast rising 0.2 percent in October after advancing 0.3 percent in September. Wages and salaries, which account for about 70% of total compensation, rose 3.1% from a year earlier for private-sector workers.

The surge in wages lifted the Employment Cost Index, the broadest measure of labor costs, which increased 0.8 percent in the third quarter after rising 0.6 percent in the second quarter.

To combat increased employment costs, employers have been looking to non-salary measures like insurance and benefits packages to retain workers, but may have to start increasing wages to attract and retain talent going forward.

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In the private sector, compensation climbed almost 3 percent over the past year, wages and salaries jumped 3.1 percent and benefits 2.5 percent, the department reported.

Employers are paying out in wages and salaries 3.1 percent more than a year ago-a record growth for this decade, according to third quarter data for the private sector. The ECI is widely viewed by policymakers and economists as a reliable predictor of core inflation. The official job growth data from the BLS is expected on November 2. Unemployment is at a 49-year low and there are more job openings than unemployed Americans, which forces companies to fight for available workers. Wage growth was boosted by a surge in transportation and warehousing, likely reflecting a shortage of truck drivers. They were up 3.1% in the 12 months through September, the biggest increase since Q-2 of Y 2008. They were up 2.6 percent in the 12 months through September after rising 2.9 percent in the year to June.

The economy grew at an annual pace of 3.5 percent in the third quarter, after the blockbuster 4.2 percent in second quarter, GDP data shows. Labor market strength is expected to underpin economic growth despite weak housing, slowing business investment and stock market turmoil.

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"I suspect that by mid-2019, labour compensation gains will be at levels that would worry the Fed members", said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.

The Fed is not expected to raise rates at its meeting next Wednesday, but economists believe strong labour market data could see the US central bank signal an increase in December.

A broader measure of unemployment, which includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they can not find full-time employment, fell one-tenth of a percentage point to 7.4 percent, matching a 17-year low hit in August. The Standard & Poor's 500 index .SPX dropped 6.9 percent in October, the biggest decline in seven years.

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"It's not about the tax cuts". So far, hiring in the manufacturing sector does not appear to have been affected by the White House's protectionist trade policy, which has contributed to capacity constraints at factories. This article is strictly for informational purposes only.

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