Former International Trade Commission Chief Peter Morici on the state of the U.S. job market. U.S. workers saw the largest increase in wages and benefits since September 2008, according to a new report from the Labor Department on Tuesday. The employment cost index, a gauge of total compensation for civilian workers, increased 0.6% in the second quarter. The cost of pay and benefits jumped 2.8% in the 12-month period ended in June, the highest yearly growth rate in nearly a decade. Wages alone gained 2.8% over the past 12 months, which also reflected a near 10-year high. Growth in benefits outpaced wages in the second quarter. Wages were up 0.5%.