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U.S. Employment Costs Rose 0.7% in Third Quarter, Consumer Spending Declines

Wall Street Journal (10/31/14) Ben Leubsdorf

U.S. employers’ labor costs rose this summer for the second consecutive quarter, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The employment-cost index rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7% in the third quarter. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal had forecast an increase of 0.5% for the index.

Despite bigger paychecks, consumer spending fell by 0.2% in September, the first decline since January, the U.S. Department of Commerce said Friday in a separate report, and temporary staffing firms have not seen much evidence of a broad-based pickup in U.S. wages.

“It is as flat as a pancake everywhere: every industry, every geography, every skill set,” says Traci Fiatte, group president for Randstad’s U.S. division. And ManpowerGroup Inc. chief executive officer Jonas Prising says there has been “significant wage pressure in certain skill sets,” such as mobile application developers. But, he says, “you have a broad swath of people that are not seeing any wage increases, or very little wage increases.”