What are employer costs for wages and benefits?

Employer Costs for Wages and Benefits and Changes in CostsThe Employment Cost Index (ECI) component of the National Compensation Survey (NCS) is a Principal Federal Economic Indicator that measures changes in labor costs. Average hourly costs for employee compensation are presented in the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC) series.

Who has benefits?

Who has benefits and how do benefits work?The NCS also provides benefits incidence data on the percentage of workers with access to and participating in employer provided benefit plans. The survey covers a broad range of benefits including holidays and vacations, sick leave, health and life insurance, and retirement plans. Details of employer-provided health and retirement plan provisions are also provided.

NCS News Releases

Worker participation rate for employer-sponsored medical care benefits is 52% in March


The participation rate for employer-sponsored medical care benefits for civilian workers was 52 percent in March 2016. The participation rate was 49 percent for private workers and 73 percent for state and local government workers.

Compensation costs up 0.6% from June 2016 to Sept 2016 and up 2.3% over the year


Compensation costs increased 0.6 percent for civilian workers, seasonally adjusted, from June 2016 to September 2016. Over the year, compensation rose 2.3 percent, with wages and salaries up 2.4 percent and benefits up 2.3 percent.
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Private employers spend $1.27 per hour worked for employee retirement benefits in June


Private industry employer compensation costs averaged $32.29 per hour worked in June 2016. Wages and salaries costs were $22.52 and total benefit costs were $9.77. Retirement costs were $1.27, accounting for 3.9 percent of total compensation costs.

Regional News Releases

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Archived News Releases


NCS Databases


Database Name Special
Tables Text Files
Modeled Wage Estimates
  Top Picks for Wage Modeling   One Screen Data Search for Wage Modeling Multi Screen Data Search for Wage Modeling   Text Files for Wage Modeling
Pay & Cost of Benefits
Employment Cost Index
  Top Picks for ECI   One Screen Data Search for ECI Multi Screen Data Search for ECI Tables for ECI Text Files for ECI
Employer Cost for Employee Compensation
  Top Picks for ECEC   One Screen Data Search for ECEC Multi Screen Data Search for ECEC Tables for ECEC Text Files for ECEC
Benefit Incidence & Provisions
Employee Benefits Survey
(1985 to 2006)

  Top Picks for EBS   One Screen Data Search for EBS Multi Screen Data Search for EBS   Text Files for EBS
National Compensation Survey - Benefits (Beginning with
2010 data)*
  Top Picks for NCS Benefits     Multi Screen Data Search for NCS Benefits Tables for NCS Benefits Text Files for NCS Benefits

*2007 to 2009 benefits data are not available in the National Compensation Survey data base.
For data during these years, see the NCS publication archive.


More Tools

  • Series Report — already know the series identifier for the statistic you want? Use this shortcut to retrieve your data.
  • Public data Application Programming Interface (API) — provides access to economic data from all BLS programs. For more information, see the Public Data API information and resources page.
  • National Compensation Search — allows you to search through all the National Compensation Survey publications that are currently available electronically.

All NCS Databases »


NCS Tables

Employment Cost Index

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC)

  • Historical Listings
    • NAICS basis (TXT) (PDF) March 2004 - Present
    • SIC basis (TXT) (PDF) (quarterly) March 2002 - December 2003
    • SIC basis (TXT) (PDF) (annual) March 1986 - March 2001
  • News Release Relative Standard Errors (TXT) (PDF) Current quarter
  • Supplemental Tables
    • NAICS basis (TXT) (PDF) Current quarter
    • Relative Standard Errors (TXT) (PDF) Current quarter
    • NAICS basis (TXT) (PDF) December 2006 - Present



NCS Publications and Other Documentation


NCS Frequently Asked Questions


NCS Special Notices

Other BLS Resources

  • Employment Cost Trends—quarterly indexes measuring change over time in labor costs and quarterly data measuring level of average costs per hour worked.
  • Benefits—comprehensive data on incidence and provisions of selected employee benefit plans.
  • Work Stoppages—monthly and annual data and analysis of major work stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers.
  • Occupational Requirements Survey—job-related information regarding the requirements of work.
  • Modeled Wage Estimates—annual estimates of average hourly wages for occupations by selected job characteristics and within geographical location.
  • Compensation Research and Program Development Group—carries out research that addresses methodological, conceptual, and technical issues of concern to the Office of Compensation and Working Conditions (OCWC), which includes the National Compensation Survey, and the Workplace Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities Programs, and other Bureau programs.
  • Consumer Price Indexes—monthly data on changes in the prices paid by urban consumers for a representative basket of goods and services.
  • Occupational Employment Statistics—data on employment and wages for over 800 occupations and for about 400 nonfarm industries for the nation, plus occupational data for States and metropolitan areas.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook—data for 250 occupations, by nature of the work, working conditions, employment, job outlook and earnings, related occupations, sources of additional information, and training, other qualifications, and advancement.
  • Producer Price Indexes—monthly data on changes in the selling prices received by domestic producers of goods and services.
  • Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages—comprehensive employment and wage data by industry and geographic area for workers covered by State Unemployment Insurance laws.
  • Customer Service Guide—provides information about compensation and working conditions data available from the Bureau.
  • Glossary of Compensation Terms—provides definitions and examples for employee compensation terms as used in the National Compensation Survey.
  • Guide for Evaluating Your Firm's Jobs and Pay—explains how the Bureau determines the work level of an occupation in the National Compensation Survey.
  • Monthly Labor Review—principal journal of fact, analysis, and research from the Bureau.
  • Occupational Classification System Manual—system used by the Bureau to classify workers into occupational categories prior to implementation of the Standard Occupational Classification.
  • Standard Occupational Classification—system used by Federal statistical agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data.

Other Useful Links

  • North American Industry Classification System—system used by Federal statistical agencies to classify businesses into industry groups for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data.
  • Wage and Hour Division—responsible for enforcing federal labor laws including minimum wage and hour standards.
  • Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs—responsible for ensuring employers doing business with the federal government comply with the laws and regulations requiring equal employment opportunity.
  • Employee Benefits Security Administration—provides participant and compliance assistance in the areas of retirement, health and other employee benefits.
  • Health Insurance Definitions—provides terms and definitions approved by the Federal Government's Interdepartmental Committee on Employment-based Health Insurance Surveys for use in Federal surveys collecting employer-based health insurance data.
  • Healthcare.gov Glossary—provides terms and definitions used on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' website healthcare.gov.


Contact Us


The Office of Compensation Levels and Trends, Branch of Survey Information and Publications, will be glad to assist you with questions about any of the components of the National Compensation Survey.

Ways to Contact BLS Directly

Email: Contact us

Telephone: (202) 691-6199 (Monday - Friday, 8:30 A.M. - 4:30 P.M.)

Information and assistance is also available from any BLS regional office.


Information voice phone: (202) 691-5200 The Federal Relay Service: 1-800-877-8339

Write or Personal Visit

Bureau of Labor Statistics
2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E. - Suite 4175
Washington, D.C. 20212-0001

Other Ways to Access our Data:


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