Employment costs in the United States rose 0.4 percent in the third quarter, in line with Wall Street expectations, as the longest recession in decades continued to eat away at worker pay and benefits, Labor Department data showed on Friday.

According to the Employment Cost Index, wages and salaries, which make up about 70 percent of compensation, and benefit costs were both up 0.4 percent in the quarter ending in September.

In the second quarter, employment costs also inched up 0.4 percent, the index showed.

Despite recent signs that the U.S. economy may be recovering from the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the year-on-year increase in compensation, 1.5 percent, was the smallest on records dating back to 1982, the Labor Department said.

Increases in wages and salaries from year-ago levels, at 1.5 percent, and benefits, at 1.6 percent, were also the lowest on record.

In the third quarter, compensation at state and local governments - many of which are facing yawning budget gaps -- was unchanged as wages and salaries fell 0.1 percent. That was the first time since the index began tracking state and local governments in 2001 that wages shrank, the Labor Department said.