Report: Wages trending up, but slowly

Annual wage increases for workers in the private sector should move modestly higher in early 2012, according to the preliminary fourth quarter Wage Trend Indicator (WTI) compiled by BNA, a business data crunching firm owned by Bloomberg L.P.

Annual wage increases for workers in the private sector should move modestly higher in early 2012, according to the preliminary fourth quarter Wage Trend Indicator (WTI) compiled by BNA, a business data crunching firm owned by Bloomberg L.P.

Kathryn Kobe, a consultant who maintains and helped develop BNA’s WTI database, said the firm’s WTI metric increased to 98.41 from 98.36 in the third quarter. If confirmed by the revised and final fourth quarter readings, the increase would be the sixth in as many quarters, she noted.

“The latest WTI reading is signaling that improvements in the labor markets will put upward pressure on wages in the coming months,” Kobe explained. “Right now, we've still got mixed economic news and an extra layer of uncertainty because of the European debt turmoil.”

However, despite that anticipated pickup in wage growth, annual gains for private sector workers as a whole are not expected to exceed 2% next year, according to BNA’s analysis. In the third quarter, the most recent data available show wages and salaries grew 1.7% year-over-year, as measured by the Department of Labor’s employment cost index (ECI), Kobe noted.

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