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Hospital Labor Costs Inch Up in Q1

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 3, 2011

Total compensation costs for hospital employees rose 0.5% in the first quarter of 2011, slightly below the 0.7% rise in total compensation costs for all workers in private industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment Cost Index shows.

For the 12-month period ending March 31, total compensation -- wages, salaries, and benefits -- grew by 2% for the hospital sector, which matches the pace of total compensation cost growth for all private industry workers for the same period, ECI data show.

In the 12-month period ending in March 2011, the Consumer Price Index rose by 2.7%, BLS data show.

A further breakdown of ECI data show that wages and salaries for the hospital sector—which generally make up about 70% of total compensation costs—increased 0.3% in the first quarter of 2011, and 1.7% in the 12-month period ending March 31, slightly above the 1.6% increase in wage and salary growth seen in the larger private industry workforce.

The ECI does not provide a separate breakdown on hospital benefits costs. However, benefits cost growth for all private industry workers grew by 1.6% in the first quarter of 2011, and 3% for the 12-month period ending March 31, ECI data show.

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