Retirement and Savings Benefits Account for 3.7 Percent of Compensation Costs in Private Industry

WASHINGTON, DC / September 27, 2011 — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently reported that private industry employers paid, on average, $1.03 per hour worked to provide retirement and savings benefits to their employees in June 2011. This is according to the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC) survey, which is an output of the BLS’s National Compensation Survey (NCS). This accounted for 3.7 percent of total compensation.

Other benefits, including paid leave, supplemental benefits, insurance, and legally required benefits totaled $7.30 and wages and salaries averaged $19.81. This brought the total average compensation to $28.13 per hour worked for private industry workers.

Costs varied by occupational group. Retirement and savings costs for management, professional, and related occupations averaged $2.08 per hour worked, which was 4.1 percent of total compensation. Service occupations had the lowest cost at 22 cents per hour worked, which was 1.6 percent of total compensation.

The NCS breaks down the retirement and savings costs into two categories—defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans. Defined contribution plans cost employers 57 cents per hour worked, which was 2.0 percent of total compensation. These plans are retirement plans that are usually based on employer contributions to individual employee accounts. The other category—defined benefit plans—cost employers 46 cents per hour worked. Defined benefit plans are retirement plans that typically specify a benefit based on age, years of service, and earnings.

“The ECEC is a powerful tool that employers can use to determine how their benefit costs compare to other similar establishments,” said Philip Doyle, BLS Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Compensation Levels and Trends. “Knowing this information is vital for employers to stay competitive by ensuring that their compensation costs are in line with the market.”

The full ECEC report, which is issued for the reference months of March, June, September, and December, includes costs for 18 individual benefits and is broken out by ownership (civilian workers, private industry, and state and local government), occupational groups, bargaining unit status, major industry groups, census regions and divisions, establishment size, and full- and part-time status. In addition, web-only tables are available by detailed industry and data for 15 metropolitan areas are issued once a year, appearing in the March release.

About The Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor is the principal federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions, and price changes in the economy. Its mission is to collect, analyze, and disseminate essential economic information to support public and private decision-making. As an independent statistical agency, BLS serves its diverse user communities by providing products and services that are objective, timely, accurate, and relevant.

About the National Compensation Survey

The National Compensation Survey is an on-going comprehensive employer-based survey of approximately 14,500 establishments conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. NCS is an umbrella program that produces data on several topics including benefits, wages, and compensation cost trends. In addition to the ECEC, the NCS produces the Employment Cost Index (ECI), which is a principal federal economic indicator. The ECI measures the percent change in the cost of wages and benefits. Data on benefit incidence and provisions are issued annually. In addition to the reports and websites mentioned in this release, the Compensation and Working Conditions Online Journal contains articles on various compensation topics and the Program Perspectives publication, focuses on one benefit topic per issue.

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