Wages and benefits paid to American workers rose by a moderate amount in the third quarter, as analysts had predicted, according to the Associated Press. The Labor Department reported that wages and salaries for civilian workers increased by 0.7 percent for the June-September period, the same increase as in the previous two quarters. That level of growth is the lowest since 2006, and provides evidence that the weak job market is limiting the ability of employees to demand raises and more generous benefits. Separately, the Commerce Department said personal spending dropped 0.3 percent in September, the biggest drop since June 2004, as consumers cut back sharply in the face of a struggling economy. Given the weak labor market, workers are likely more focused on keeping their jobs than demanding better pay. The struggling economy has led to increased layoffs, as companies cut 760,000 jobs in the first nine months of this year. That increased the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent last month from 4.9 percent in January. Many companies have announced mass layoffs in recent weeks, including Whirlpool, drugmaker Merck and Motorola.