US employment costs rise modestly in fourth quarter

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Wages and benefits for U.S. workers rose in the last quarter of the year as employers sought to hold the line on pay gains as the pandemic continues to rankle the economy. U.S. workers’ total compensation rose 0.7% in the October-December quarter, an increase over the previous two quarters, the Labor Department said Friday. For the year, wages and benefits grew 2.5%. The Labor Department’s Employment Cost Index measures pay changes for workers that keep their jobs. The data isn’t affected by the mass layoffs in the spring. Even though the gains were modest, they still outpaced 2020 inflation of 1.4%.