Time in Eastern Standard Time (USA): 08:30 Text from Econoday.com: Definition: Why this is important The employment cost index is an easy way to evaluate wage trends and the risk of wage inflation. Wage inflation is high on the Federal Reserves enemy list. Fed officials are always on the lookout for the prospects of inflationary pressures. Wage pressures tend to percolate when economic activity is booming and the demand for labor is rising rapidly. During economic downturns, wage pressures tend to be subdued because labor demand is down. By tracking labor costs, investors can gain a sense of whether businesses will feel the need to raise prices. If wage inflation threatens, its a good bet that interest rates will rise, bond and stock prices will fall, and the only investors in a good mood will be the ones who tracked the employment cost index and adjusted their portfolios to anticipate these events. Frequency Quarterly Source Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor. Availability Last week of the month Coverage Data are released the first month of the following quarter of the reference quarter. First quarter data are released in April.