U.S. labor costs accelerate in first quarter

Construction is seen on a new housing development along the riverfront in Detroit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. labor costs recorded their biggest gain since 2007 in the first quarter, suggesting wage growth was picking up as the labor market nears full employment.

The Employment Cost Index, the broadest measure of labor costs, increased 0.8 percent, the largest increase since the fourth quarter of 2007, after rising 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the ECI rising 0.6 percent in the last quarter. In the 12 months through March, labor costs increased 2.4 percent after rising 2.2 percent in the year to December.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)