WASHINGTON | Fri., Apr. 27, 2012 9:12am EDT (Reuters) — Civilian employment costs rose more modestly by 0.4% during the first quarter, primarily because growth in benefits slowed after a sharp rise in last year's fourth quarter, Labor Department data showed last week.

The gain in employee costs was slightly lower than the 0.5% rise forecast by analysts surveyed by Reuters. Costs had increased 0.5% in the final three months of 2011.

Benefit costs, which account for 30% of compensation, grew by 0.5% in the first quarter after a sharp 0.7% rise in last year's fourth quarter.

Wages and salaries — the other 70% of costs — were up 0.5% in the first three months this year, a pickup from the 0.3% gain posted in last year's closing quarter.

(Reporting By Glenn Somerville; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

© 2011 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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