Employment costs increased at a slower than expected pace in the fourth quarter, indicating that inflation pressures on business owners are at least leveling off.
The employment cost index, a barometer the Federal Reserve watches closely for inflation signs, increased 1% in the October-to-December period, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. That was a bit below the 1.1% Dow Jones estimate and less the 1.2% reading in the third quarter. It also was the lowest quarterly gain in a year.
Wages and salaries for the period also rose 1%, down 0.3 percentage point, while the cost of benefits increased just 0.8%, down from 1% in the previous period.
Compensation for government workers grew at a…