The numbers: American workers are finally reaping the benefits of the lowest unemployment rate and best jobs market in decades: Wages and benefits are rising at the fastest pace in a decade.
The employment cost index rose 0.6% in the second quarter, a tick below the MarketWatch estimate of 0.7%. More important, the cost of worker compensation in the form of pay and benefits edged up to 2.8% to mark the biggest yearly gain since mid-2008.
Big picture: Wages and compensation are going up because unemployment is way down. The jobless rate has tumbled to an 18-year low of 4% after the hiring of millions of people in the past eight years. More and more companies complain they cannot find enough skilled workers. Firms have sought to fill openings by offering better benefits such as more vacation time or flexible hours. When push comes to shove, they are offering higher pay.