Benefits Comprise 29 Percent of Compensation Costs for Private Industry

Legally required and insurance benefits make up the largest benefit categories.

Private industry employers pay, on average, $8.20 per hour worked for employee benefits, which represents 29.4 percent of their total compensation package. Combined with an average wage of $19.68, their total compensation costs are $27.88 per hour worked. These data are from Employer Costs for Employee Compensation for September 2010, issued yesterday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Legally required and insurance benefits accounted for the largest benefit categories. Legally required benefits cost employers $2.31 per hour worked, which is 8.3 percent of total compensation. Legally required benefits include Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation. Insurance plans averaged $2.24, which is 8.0 percent of total compensation. Health insurance is responsible for the majority of the insurance costs, at $2.10, with the remainder due to life, short-term disability, and long-term disability.

Paid leave benefits averaged $1.88 per hour worked for private industry employers, which is 6.7 percent of total compensation. This category includes vacations, holidays, sick leave, and personal leave. Retirement and savings, which includes defined benefit and defined contribution plans, cost 99 cents, which is 3.6 percent of total compensation. Finally, supplemental pay—which includes overtime and premium pay, shift differentials, and nonproduction bonuses—averaged 78 cents, which is 2.8 percent of total compensation.

National data for the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation survey is issued quarterly for the reference months of March, June, September, and December. Data include breakouts by occupational group, industry group, bargaining unit status, census regions and divisions, establishment size, full- and part-time status, and ownership. Additional web-only tables are available by detailed industry. In addition to the national data issued quarterly, data for 15 metropolitan areas are issued once a year, appearing in the March news release.

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