The cost of employing the average U.S. worker rose 0.7% in the fourth quarter, but compensation still hasn’t return to pre-pandemic levels, according to a closely followed measure of labor costs.
Wages — some 70% of employment costs — increased 0.9%, the government said Friday. Benefits rose 0.6% in the fourth quarter.
Over the past 12 months, the employment cost index advanced at a 2.5% pace, based on unadjusted data. That’s closely to the yearly average over the past four years, but below the 2.8% clip that prevailed before the coronavirus.
The ECI reflects how much companies, governments and nonprofit institutions compensate employees. The report has been partly skewed by the pandemic, however, and is unlikely to offer as much useful information until the economy returns close to normal.
The viral outbreak has caused the loss of millions of jobs, distorted the labor market and made it harder to glean clear trends from the ECI data.