FILE - In this Nov. 27, 2019, file photo Jayln Martin, right, and Dan Villegas stock items in preparation for a holiday sale at a Walmart Supercenter in Las Vegas. On Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, the Labor Department reports on wages and benefits for U.S. workers during the Oct.-Dec. quarter. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Us Workers’ Compensation Growth Slowed A Bit In 2019

January 31, 2020 - 5:35 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans’ pay and benefits rose at a solid pace last year, but at a slower rate than in 2018, the Labor Department said Friday.

Total salaries and benefits such as health insurance rose 2.7% in 2019, according to the government’s employment cost index, down from 2.9% in the previous year. In the final three months of last year, workers’ compensation grew 0.7%, matching the third-quarter’s increase.

The slowdown in salary and benefit growth has been a surprise to economists, since the unemployment rate, currently 3.5%, is at a half-century low and has hovered near that level for most of last year. Businesses typically are forced to pay more and offer better perks when the labor market is so tight.

The ECI’s figures echo data from the monthly jobs report, which showed that annual growth in hourly wages declined from 3.4% in early 2019 to just 2.9% in December.

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