(Bloomberg) — Wages and salaries rose at a slower pace in the fourth quarter, indicating workers have limited success bargaining for pay increases even as the labor market improves.

The 0.5 percent increase in worker pay followed a 0.8 percent advance in the third quarter, the Labor Department said Friday. The agency's employment cost index, which also includes benefits, climbed 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter from the previous three months.

"We're going to view this as kind of a temporary blip and as labor-market slack dissipates, we would expect wage growth to accelerate," said Brittany Baumann, a New York-based economist at Credit Agricole CIB, whose firm correctly projected the rise in the employment cost index.

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