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August 1982, Vol. 105, No. 8
Bureau of Labor Statistics takes
a new look at employee benefits
Robert Frumkin and William Wiatrowski
In 1981, employees in medium and large size establishments received, on average, about 10 paid holidays each year and nearly 16 days of paid vacation annually after 10 years of service. For 3 of 5 participants in a life insurance plan, coverage was based on earnings, with the prevalence of earnings-related plans much higher among white-collar employees. Seventy-one percent of the workers covered by the survey participated in health insurance plans that were fully paid for by their employers, and just under one-half also received employer-paid coverage for their dependents. Eighty-four percent of the employees were covered by private retirement pension plans (in addition to social security); 79 percent were in plans fully paid for by the employer.
As these statistics indicates, benefit plans are important elements in the typical employee compensation package. Employer outlays for legally required and private benefits, including paid leave, constituted about one-fourth of all expenditures for employee compensation in 1977, when this subject was last studied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 Moreover, the rate of growth in outlays for these benefits has substantially outpaced that for wages and salaries over the 40-year period since benefits began to gain prominence.
For many years, BLS tracked growth of benefit plans by studying both their provisions and their cost to employers.2 Recently, BLS initiated an annual survey on the incidence and characteristics of employee benefit plans. This article describes the design, coverage, output, and availability of results from this new survey, which was first conducted in 1979.
This excerpt is from an article published in the August 1982 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Employee Compensation in the Private Nonfarm Economy, 1977, Summary 0-5 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1980), p. 3, table 1.
2 For example, major provisions of benefit plans were summarized periodically and published in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Digest of Selected Health and Insurance Plans and Digest of Selected Pension Plans. The series ran from 1955 to 1979. In addition, surveys of expenditures for employee compensation were conducted in the 1959-77 period. These programs have been discontinued because of budget constraints. The Bureau's Employment Cost Index, a quarterly measure of change in the rate of compensation, includes benefits as well as wages and salaries.
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