Wages and benefits for U.S. employees rose 0.7% in the first three months of the calendar year, a small gain that matched the preceding quarter increase.
The information, released Tuesday by the Labor Department, suggests that growth in workers’ compensation has stalled lately. That’s down slightly from a 2.9% annual gain in the final quarter of 2018. Still, employees’ compensation has chosen up. Five decades ago, quarterly gains were nearer to 0.4 percent.
The job market is quite tight, and with all the unemployment rate at 3.8%, near a 50-year low, and you will find far more open occupations compared to jobless workers. That’s pushed up wages with time, as they were the last time the rate was this low, though the gains are not as healthy.
Faster pay increases can force businesses to increase prices to offset. The increase in benefits and pay included in the report of Tuesday suggests that inflationary pressures remain in check.
In typically lower-paying businesses and occupations than in higher-paying ones compensation rose. To get truckers and other transport employees, it jumped 1.6%, and for retail employees it rose 1 percent. Managers’ compensation rose just 0.5% and for specialist employees, 0.4%. That is a sign employers are currently fighting particularly tough to discover and keep lower-skilled workers.