Employment costs up modest 0.6 percent in first quarter

WASHINGTON -- Employment costs paid to U.S. civilian workers rose at a slightly faster pace in the first three months of the year compared to the previous quarter, as wages and salaries gained steam.

The Labor Department says overall compensation was up 0.6 percent in the first quarter compared to a 0.5 percent rise in the final three months of 2015.

Wages and salaries, which account for 70 percent of compensation costs, rose 0.7 percent in the first quarter compared to a 0.5 percent advance in the fourth quarter. Benefits costs, which cover pensions and health insurance, increased 0.5 percent in the first quarter, down from a previous 0.6 percent increase.

The modest first quarter advance in compensation showed inflation pressures remain well contained.