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in this example... employment costs is plural hence... option B gets eliminated as it refers to 'it'... then since its cost which can be measured we cannot refer it sayin it got lowered.. hence option D & E too gets eliminated... Among option A & C... 'employment costs' is the subject of the sentence...that rose this year than they did last year....option C sounds awkward.... option A is the answer..
Employment costs rose 2.8 percent in the 12 months that ended in September, slightly less than they did in the year that ended in the previous quarter. A, less than they did B, less than it did C, less than they were D, lower than E, lower than they were
This sentense compares what happended to employment costs between 2 past periods.
"2.8 percent" is countable, LESS is better choice then LOWER - so, D and E are eliminated.
main verb "rose" should be parallel to verb in the subordinate clause. So 'did' is the proper choice not "were"