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Compensation costs up slightly

WASHINGTON — Compensation costs for US workers rose modestly in the July-September quarter as the cost of benefits such as health insurance rose more rapidly than wages and salaries.

The Labor Department says that compensation increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent in the third quarter compared to the April-June quarter, when compensation had risen 0.5 percent. Wages and salaries, which make up 70 percent of compensation costs, rose 0.3 percent in the third quarter while benefits were up 0.7 percent.

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Over the past 12 months, compensation costs have risen a modest 1.9 percent. The Great Recession has kept a lid on wage growth. That has meant low inflation overall, a factor that has allowed the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates low to boost the economy.

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