Wages Boost U.S. Labor Costs in Third Quarter

The rise in compensation reported on Tuesday by the Labor Department was slightly stronger than expected and helps to explain the surge in consumer spending last quarter, which contributed to the fastest economic growth pace in nearly two years.

Wages increased 1.2% in the third quarter after climbing 1.0% in the prior three months. They were up 4.6% on a year-on-year basis after advancing by the same margin in the second quarter. Wage growth continues to exceed pre-pandemic rates.

Private-sector wages gained 1.1% after rising 1.0% in the April-June quarter. They advanced 4.5% on a year-on-year basis.

State and local government wages shot up 1.8% after increasing 0.8% in the prior quarter. They were driven by rises in education and health services as well as public administration. State and local government wages increased 4.8% on a year-on-year basis.

Inflation-adjusted wages for all workers rose 0.9% on a year-on-year basis after jumping 1.7% in the second quarter. Benefits rose 0.9% last quarter after climbing by the same margin in the April-June period. They increased 4.1% on a year-on-year basis.