Total U.S. employee compensation rose in the fourth quarter and matched the biggest 12-month gain since 2008, as private-sector pay picked up, Labor Department figures showed Wednesday.

Private-sector wages and salaries rose from a year earlier by 2.8 percent, also matching the best gain of this expansion. Several industry groups registered increases of 3 percent or higher, led by transportation and material moving at 3.5 percent and service occupations at 3.3 percent, underscoring demand for labor.

While wage growth has gradually improved, a sustained acceleration is yet to occur in the current economic expansion. The latest year-over-year increase in compensation indicates employers are making more generous offers as they compete for workers in the tightening labor market.

Read more in Bloomberg.