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August 2004, Vol. 127, No. 8
The National Compensation Survey: a wealth of benefits data
Allan P. Blostin
The creation of the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey (NCS) has been a comprehensive effort to provide data on wages, costs, and benefits, all within one survey program. NCS outputs include the Employment Cost Index (ECI), which measures the change in employer costs for wages, salaries, and benefits; and the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC), which measures the average employer cost per employee hour worked for wages, salaries, and benefits. Both ECI and ECEC are published quarterly.1 The NCS of Occupational Wages in the United States provides earnings data in a variety of occupations in different metropolitan areas nationwide, a few non-metropolitan counties, nine census divisions, and for the Nation as a whole.2
The NCS survey also provides data on the incidence and detailed provisions for medical, dental, and vision care; private retirement plans; and other benefits for employees in all sizes of establishments.3 A major goal of the NCS is to produce data linking information on benefit plan details to wages and employer benefit plan costs. The forerunner of the NCS benefits portion was the Employee Benefits Survey (EBS). Before the advent of the NCS, the EBS had provided data on the incidence and detailed provisions of selected benefits for different sectors of the economy in alternating years. Medium and large private establishments—those establishments of 100 workers or more—were studied in odd years; small private establishments—those establishments of fewer than 100 workers—and State and local governments were studied in even years.4 Exhibit 1 shows the transition from the EBS to the NCS. The series of articles appearing in this issue of the Monthly Labor Review cover a broad spectrum of topics highlighting the NCS benefits products.
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1 Additional information about the ECI and ECEC is on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ect/home.htm
2 Additional information about the NCS of Occupational Wages in the United States is on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ocs/home.htm
3 When fully implemented, the NCS will include State and local governments of all sizes. Additional information about the NCS benefits survey is on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/home.htm
4 For a more detailed description of the Employee Benefits Survey, see Allan Blostin, "An Overview of the EBS and NCS" (PDF), Compensation and Working Conditions, spring 1999, pp. 2–5.
National Compensation Survey - Benefits
National Compensation Survey
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