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Employee Benefits Survey
EBS EBS Program Links

Technical Note

Data in this release are from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This release contains March 2009 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. In July 2009, a news release provided data on the incidence of (access to and participation in) selected benefits and share of premiums paid by employers and employees for medical care. Those estimates are also included in these tables. These tables include an extensive number of tables on the incidence of selected benefits. Data on detailed provisions of retirement and health insurance benefits in private industry will be published in 2010. Previous publications containing information on employee benefits for private industry and State and local government workers are available on the BLS website

Calculation details

Averages for occupations within an establishment were used to produce estimates for worker groups averaging hourly pay within the six earnings percentiles: Lowest 10 percent, lowest 25 percent, second 25 percent, third 25 percent, highest 25 percent, and highest 10 percent. The percentiles are 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 percentile estimates, the individual worker hourly earnings are appropriately weighted and then arrayed from lowest to highest.

The published 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles designate position in the earnings distribution within each published occupation. At the 50th percentile, the median, half of the hours are paid the same as or more than the rate shown in the data tables, and half are paid the same as or less than the rate shown. At the 25th percentile, one-fourth of the hours are paid the same as or less than the rate shown. At the 75th percentile, one-fourth are paid the same as or more than the rate shown. The 10th and 90th percentiles follow the same logic. The percentile values are based on wages published in the bulletin National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States, 2008. Values corresponding to the percentiles used in the tables are as follows:

Characteristics Hourly wage percentiles
10 25 50
75 90
Civilian workers $8.24 $11.00 $16.25 $25.48 $37.86
Private industry workers $8.00 $10.50 $15.50 $24.22 $36.43
State and local government workers $11.35 $14.98 $21.43 $31.55 $43.23

The tables on employer and employee medical premiums 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 coverage.

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.

Survey scope and method

Information on the survey scope, sample design, data collection, survey estimation, and reliability of estimates are available in the news release, "Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2009 (USDL 09-0872) available at the BLS Web site For additional technical information, see the BLS Handbook of Methods, available online at

Survey definitions

For definitions of major plan types, key provisions, and related terms used in these tables, see the "Glossary of Employee Benefit Terms" at the BLS Web site

Obtaining additional information

For research articles on employee benefits, see the Monthly Labor Review or Compensation and Working Conditions Online at the BLS Web sites and For more detailed information on the industry and occupational classification systems, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), and Standard Occupational Classification (SOC), including background information, see the BLS Web sites and