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January 28, 2005
Significant Increase in Costs of Benefits
Compensation costs for the private sector rose 0.7 percent from September to December 2004, after advancing 0.9 percent in the prior quarter, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. Private sector benefit costs rose 1.5 percent for the December quarter, significantly higher than the 1.0 percent gain in the previous quarter.

Benefit costs for state and local governments increased 1.5 percent in the December quarter, following an increase of 1.4 percent in September 2004.

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For state and local government workers, compensation costs rose 1.0 percent in December, a gain from the 0.5 percent advance in September.

Wages and salaries for private industry workers rose 0.4 percent for the December quarter, slowing from the 0.9 percent gain during the prior period.

Among private industry workers, benefit costs contributed nearly two-thirds of compensation gains during the quarter, with defined benefit retirement costs accounting for nearly one-third of the gain in compensation costs.

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