Labour costs are rising in the EU
French car maker Renault's employees demonstrate against the company's labour deal at the Renault factory in Flins, near Paris, in January, 2013.

Hourly wage costs across the European Union (EU) jumped 2% in the first quarter of 2013, hinting the 27-member currency bloc's economy is inching its way toward a recovery.

The 17-member eurozone, the core of the 27-member EU entered its longest ever recession in the first quarter of 2013, since records began in 1995, with the economy contracting for six consecutive quarters, after a fall in output in France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Finland.

The two main components of labour costs are wages and salaries; and non-wage costs.

Hourly wages and salaries rose by 2.0% and the non-wage component grew 1.9% in the first quarter of 2013, across the EU, compared with 1.2% and 1.3% respectively for the fourth quarter of 2012. Overall, hourly labour costs rose 1.9% in the January-March quarter, compared with a 1.3% increase during the October-December quarter of the previous year, Eurostat data showed.

Wages and salaries per hour worked grew by 1.7% across the eurozone and the non-wage component rose 1.4% in January-March quarter, compared with 1.4% and 0.9% respectively during the October-December quarter, data from the EU's statistics office showed. Overall, hourly labour costs in the 17-member eurozone increased 1.6% in first quarter, compared with 1.3% for the fourth quarter of 2012.

A breakdown by economic activity showed that industrial labour costs rose the most during the first quarter, at 3.4% per hour in the EU and 3.3% per hour in the eurozone.

Hourly labour costs grew by 3.9% in Germany, Europe's strongest economy; 2.5% in Italy, 1.6% in the UK and 0.1% in France.

Industrial production in the 17-nation eurozone, where millions of people are unemployed, disregarded market expectations of a month-on-month decline and grew 0.4% in April, following a 0.9% jump in March, 2013. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 0.2% decline in April's output.