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Employee Benefits Survey
EBS EBS Program Links

Employee Benefits: Questions and Answers

  1. What types of benefit data does the BLS provide?
    • The National Compensation Survey (NCS) benefits series is comprised of two annual publications on the incidence and provisions of selected benefits provided by employers to their employees. The data are released in two stages. Initially, data are published on the incidence and key provisions of selected benefit plans and detailed provisions of paid holidays, life insurance plans, and other benefit plans. Employer and employee shares of contributions to medical care premiums and their average amounts are also presented. At a later date, more detailed information on the provisions on health and retirement plans are published.
    • Detailed provisions of health care and retirement benefit plans are published annually with the focus on a particular benefit rotating between health care, defined benefit, and defined contribution plans. For the most recent complete collection of data on these detailed provisions visit here.
  2. For what worker and establishment characteristics are benefit data available?
    • Data are available by selected worker and establishment characteristics by ownership group. Ownership groups include workers in civilian, private industry, and state and local government. Worker characteristics include broad occupational groups, full-time and part-time employment, union and non-union, and average wage percentile categories. Establishment characteristics include major industry groups, establishment size, and geographic location.
  3. How much has the cost of employer-provided benefits changed in the last 5 years?
    • Data on employer-provided benefits costs and their changes are available from the BLS Employment Cost Trends.
  4. Does the BLS have estimates on the cost and types of benefits for a specific occupation?
    • NCS publishes data for a selected number of occupational groups. Some detailed occupational groupings such as protective service workers in private industry and primary, secondary, and special education school teacher occupations in state and local government are also available.
  5. Does the BLS provide projections on benefits?
    • NCS does not make projections.
  6. Are there micro data available to the public?
    • NCS benefit micro data are available on a limited basis to researchers for the purpose of conducting valid statistical analyses. For more details and how to apply for access, see BLS Restricted Data Access page.
  7. Does the BLS track the amount of sick leave employees use?
    • The BLS does not produce data on the use of such benefits. However, the BLS does produce data on availability of sick leave and other disability benefits as part of our benefits survey. Visit the NCS benefits home page for the most recent information.
  8. What percentage of the American work force has access to employer provided childcare?
    • The NCS benefits survey provides incidence data of employee benefits for private industry and state and local government workers. Additionally, the BLS publishes the incidence of benefits for civilian workers, which includes data from both private industry and state and local government. See the Glossary of Employee Benefit Terms for the BLS definition of childcare.
  9. Is a company mandated to give employees a specific number of paid holidays?
  10. Does the BLS have information on mandatory benefits, and when an employee has the right to receive them?
    • The costs of legally required benefits (workers compensation, Social Security, Federal unemployment and State unemployment) are published as part of the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC) series. The cost trends of these legally required benefits are also included in the benefit series published as part of the Employment Cost Index (ECI). To view the latest benefit breakout go to here. For obtaining information on employee rights as they pertain to mandatory benefits, the BLS suggests visiting the Department of Labor website.
    • Additional benefits required by State and local laws (such as sick leave and short-term disability) are reflected in the individual benefit components for ECEC & reflected within total benefits within ECI. Additional provisions may be reflected within the benefit data.
  11. Does the BLS have any information on the difference in benefit packages between companies of different sizes?
    • The NCS benefit surveys provide information by size of establishment. The establishment size is characterized by the number of workers, and broken out into two broad categories 1-99 workers and 100 or more workers and into four additional sub-categories: 1-49 employees; 50-99 employees; 100-499 employees; and 500+ employees. For the availability of leave, insurance, retirement, and other selected benefits by size of establishment, see the most recent data here. These data are produced annually.

Retirement benefits information

  1. What are frozen retirement plans and how prevalent are they?
    • Frozen retirement plans are defined benefit plans that are closed to new enrollees and that may limit future benefit accruals for some or all active plan participants. Some plans may no longer allow participants to accrue additional benefits, while others may change the plan's prospective benefit formula in such a way as to limit or cease future benefit accruals for some active participants.
    • Incidence and provision data on frozen retirement plans are published annually. Please visit this page for the latest data.
  2. How prevalent are cash account (cash balance) pension plans?

Health benefits information

  1. What are high deductible health plans and how do they differ from traditional health plans?
  2. How much do employees pay for health care?
    • Data on employee and employer contributions to medical care are available for civilian, private industry, and state and local government workers. For information on employee premiums for single and family coverage, and provisions on deductibles, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums see the detailed health and retirement plan provisions.
  3. What information does the NCS collect about Flexible Spending Accounts? Does the NCS capture data regarding the details of how an employer reimburses their employees for valid transactions?
  4. Are more workers covered by fee-for-service (FFS) plans or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs)?
    • According to the most recent data from the BLS surveys of employee benefits, the majority of all workers covered by an employer medical care plan participated in a fee-for-service plans. The data show that participation in FFS and HMO plans has not changed much in recent years. For more information on different types of health care plan types, visit the detailed provisions data and the Glossary of Employee Benefit Terms.
  5. Does the BLS provide information on the detailed provisions of employer-provided health insurance plans?
    • Yes, the NCS provides comprehensive information on health benefit plans. Under the NCS program, information on the incidence and provision of benefits is published in stages. This information is published with a March reference date each year with data collected from respondents in private industry, and state and local government workers. The published data contains the access to, and participation in, selected benefits such as health care plans and employee shares of contributions to medical care premiums and their average amounts.
    • A second publication, based on employer documentation of benefit plans, is published annually with more detailed information on basic provisions of health plans. Also, additional provisions of health benefit plans are published on a rotating basis. For the most recent information, see the latest health benefit publications.


Last Modified Date: March 2, 2022