|Today's post is shared from blogs.wsj.com.|
Growth in worker compensation nearly stalled this spring as wages stagnated and health benefits fell.
Private employers in the U.S. spent an average of $30.11 per hour worked for total compensation in June, the Labor Department said in a report Wednesday. That was up just 0.4% from March, a sharp slowdown from its 1.2% gain in the first three months of the year. Total compensation rose by 1.4% in the final three months of 2013, the fastest rate of the recovery.
Growth of private-sector wages slowed to 0.3% between March and June, down from a 1% rate in the prior three months. Wages account for 70% of total compensation.
Expenditure on health benefits fell 0.4% between March and June after jumping 2.6% in the first three months of the year. Health benefits are the second largest element of employee compensation behind wages, accounting for 7.8% of total expenditure.
Economists are closely following measures of employee compensation for clues on labor market health and on the strength of price pressures throughout the economy. Stagnant wage growth during the economic recovery has signaled a high level of unemployment and tame inflation.
Employer costs for employee compensation is one of two gauges that capture both wages and benefits. Several narrower gauges focus on wages. The most closely followed of these is the Labor Department’s measure of average hourly earnings, part of the agency’s monthly Employment Situation report.
Similarly, economists and policy...