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April 29, 2005
Rise in Compensation Costs Slows Slightly

Total compensation costs for civilian workers increased 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2005, with a bulk of the gain coming from rising costs for benefits, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor.

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The first-quarter increase of 0.7 percent is the smallest in six years, according to the Associated Press. In the fourth quarter of 2004, compensation costs rose 0.8 percent.

Benefit costs rose 1.2 percent from December 2004 to March 2005, outpacing the gain for wages and salaries of 0.6 percent.

Rises in benefit costs accounted for nearly 60 percent of the increase in compensation costs for civilian workers from December 2004 to March 2005.

Among private industry workers, benefit costs contributed approximately 60 percent of compensation gains during the quarter, with health-insurance costs and non-production bonuses accounting for nearly one-third of the gain in compensation costs.

Compensation costs for the private sector rose 0.6 percent from December 2004 to March 2005, after advancing 0.8 percent in the prior quarter.

Wages and salaries for civilian workers increased 0.6 percent during the March 2005 quarter, virtually unchanged from a gain of 0.5 percent in December 2004. Wages and salaries for private industry workers rose 0.6 percent for the March quarter, compared with a 0.4 percent gain during the prior period.

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