The cost to businesses of employing one worker slowed in the year 2009 to a record low pace, reported the US Department of Labor earlier today. This data has been available since 1982, and the 2009 index of 1.5% is the lowest rate ever observed in the United States. Benefits and wages across the country both rose at new low paces, around 1.5% each. The employment-costs index (ECI) did rise somewhat in the fourth quarter of 2009, allowing some officials to hope that it was a sign of better times to come. However, the overall trend has still been a downward trend for the past 3 years, unemployment remains high, and some officials fear that the slow rate of wage increase could mean disinflation, or even deflation.