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Short Bits

Compensation grew by 2.6% for calendar year 2017.

That’s up from 2.2% in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The last two years of wage increases are good news for workers, who saw years of wage stagnation following the Great Recession.

More workers receive financial advice as an employee benefit.

Again from the Department of Labor’s BLS, about one-fifth of private industry workers were offered free or subsidized financial planning services from their employers in 2017. As might be expected, about three times the number of employers with at least 100 employees offered the benefit compared to smaller employers. Information, finance and insurance, and utilities were the three industries most likely to offer it; administrative and waste services, leisure and hospitality, and construction were the least likely.

Consumer debt at record high.

One potentially troubling economic sign is that consumer debt hit an all-time high.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit, total household debt reached a new peak in the third quarter of 2017 at $12.96 trillion. That’s $280 billion above the previous high in the third quarter of 2008. Balances increased by 0.6 percent on mortgages, 1.9 percent on auto loans and 3.1 percent on credit cards.

Inflation rose 2.1% in 2017.

The reporting, via the BLS’s Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), showed an the increase during the 12 months ending December 2017. In 2016, the same index also increased 2.1%, while 2015 showed only a 0.7% rise in inflation.

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