US employment compensation up 0.3 per cent in Q1; wages grow faster, but benefits slow

WASHINGTON – Americans’ wages increased at a faster rate from January through March than the previous quarter, a trend that helped boost economic growth. But their benefits barely grew.

The Labor Department says an index that measures wages and benefits rose 0.3 per cent during the first quarter. That’s down from a 0.4 per cent gain in the October-December quarter and the smallest gain in a year.

Wages and salaries rose 0.5 per cent, up from the 0.3 per cent gain in the previous quarter. But benefits, which include health insurance and pension contributions, rose just 0.1 per cent after a 0.6 per cent rise in the fourth quarter.

Higher pay has helped consumers shake off an increase in Social Security taxes. Consumer spending rose in the first quarter at the fastest pace in more than two years.