Employee Benefits technical note

                                             TECHNICAL NOTE

Data in this release are from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), conducted by the U.S. 
Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This release contains March 2013 data on 
civilian, private industry, and state and local government workers in the United States. Under the NCS 
program, information on the incidence and provision of benefits is published in several stages. This news 
release provides data on the incidence of (access to and participation in) selected benefits and the share 
of premiums paid by employers and employees for medical care. An extensive number of tables on the 
incidence of selected benefits will be available in the annual bulletin to be published in early fall, 2013. 
Previous publications containing information on employee benefits for private industry and state and 
local government workers are available on the BLS website at http://www.bls.gov/ebs.

Calculation details

For data presented by wage category, average hourly earnings from sampled occupations within an 
establishment were used to produce estimates for worker groups within six earnings categories: the 
lowest 10 percent, the lowest 25 percent, the second 25 percent, the third 25 percent, the highest 25 
percent, and the highest 10 percent. The categories are based on unpublished March 2013 wages and 
salaries from the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation. 

The percentiles were computed using earnings reported for individual workers in sampled establishment 
jobs and their scheduled hours of work.  Establishments in the survey may report only individual worker 
earnings for each sampled job.  For the calculation of the hourly percentile values, the individual worker 
hourly earnings are appropriately weighted and arrayed from lowest to highest.  The values 
corresponding to the percentiles are:

    Characteristics                                    Hourly wage percentiles
                                          10         25       50 (median)       75        90
Civilian workers                        $8.75      $11.53       $17.46        $27.60    $41.80
Private industry workers                $8.50      $11.00       $16.59        $26.18    $40.44
State and local government             $12.00      $15.80       $23.01        $34.19    $47.72

The lowest 10 percent and 25 percent wage categories include those occupations with an average hourly 
wage less than the 10th percentile value and 25th percentile value, respectively.  The second 25 percent 
category includes those occupations that make at or above the 25th percentile value but less than the 
50th percentile value.  The third 25 percent category includes those occupations that make at or above 
the 50th percentile value but less than the 75th percentile value.  Finally, the highest 25 and 10 percent 
wage categories include those occupations with an average wage value greater than or equal to the 75th 
and 90th percentile value, respectively. 

(Note: Individual workers can fall into an earnings category different from the average for the 
occupation into which they are classified because average hourly earnings for the occupation are used to 
produce the benefit estimates.) 

The tables on employer and employee medical premiums (tables 3 and 4) include participants in all 
medical plans, with calculations for both single and family coverage. The calculations are not based on 
actual decisions regarding medical coverage made by employees within the occupations. Rather, the 
premium calculations are based on the assumption that all employees in the occupation have identical 

Medical care

Medical care plans provide services or payments for services rendered in the hospital or by a qualified 
medical care provider.

Take-up rates

Take-up rates are the percentage of workers with access to a plan who participate in the plan. They are 
computed by using the number of workers participating in a plan divided by the number of workers with 
access to the plan, multiplied by 100, and rounded to the nearest one percent. Since the computation of 
take-up rates is based on the number of workers collected rather than rounded percentage estimates, the 
take-up rates in the tables may not equal the ratio of participation to access estimates.

Leave benefits for teachers

Primary, secondary, and special education teachers typically have a work schedule of 37 or 38 weeks per 
year. Because of this work schedule, they are generally not offered vacation or holidays. In many cases, 
the time off during winter and spring breaks during the school year is not considered vacation days for 
the purposes of this survey.

Survey response

The March 2013 benefits survey included a sample of 11,893 establishments.  The definitions in 
Appendix table 1 are as follows:

Responding.  The establishment provided information on at least one usable occupation. An occupation 
is classified as usable if the following data are present: earnings, occupational characteristics (full- vs. 
part-time schedule, union vs. nonunion status, and time vs. incentive pay type), and work schedule.

Refused or unable to provide data.  The establishment did not provide earnings, occupational 
characteristics, and work schedule data for any occupation.

Out of business or not in survey scope.  The establishment is no longer in operation. Establishments not in 
the survey scope include farm and private households, the self-employed, the Federal government, and 
locations of an establishment that are not in the sampled area. Also excluded are establishments with no 
workers within the survey scope. For example, an establishment where all the workers are also owners 
would be excluded.

Survey scope

The March 2013 NCS benefits survey represented nearly 125 million civilian workers; of this number, 
about 106 million were private industry workers and 19 million, state and local government workers (see 
Appendix table 2).  

Obtaining information

For research articles on employee benefits, see the Monthly Labor Review at the BLS Web sites 
http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/home.htm and http://www.bls.gov/opub/cwc/home.htm. For further 
technical information, see Chapter 8, "National Compensation Measures," of the BLS Handbook of 
Methods at: http://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/pdf/homch8.pdf and 

Table of Contents

Last Modified Date: July 17, 2013