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US employment compensation up 0.3 percent in Q1

By Martin Crutsinger

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 30 2013 9:56 a.m. MDT

In this Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 photo, shoppers at a Target store in Chicago check the receipts of their purchases.

Sitthixay Ditthavong, Associated Press

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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 percent during the first quarter. That's down from a 0.4 percent gain in the October-December quarter and the smallest gain in a year.

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

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