History of the Survey
The EBS (originally the Levels of Benefits survey) was developed to provide data for a program to achieve comparability in Federal and private compensation, which would have compared the wages and benefits of private sector and federal workers when setting Federal pay levels. Preliminary research into compensation comparability was conducted by Office of Personnel Management from 1974 through 1979. They then requested that BLS conduct a pilot survey on the level of employee benefits (1979). The pilot survey was a subsample of the National Survey of Professional, Administrative, Technical, and Clerical Pay, designed to represent 21 million employees. Due in part to budget cutbacks, the Office of Personnel Management did not use the survey data for federal compensation administration. However, the general need for benefit data was great enough in both the private and public sectors to warrant continuing the survey.
Surveys of employees in medium and large establishments continued during 1979-89. They included employees in establishments that employed at least 50, 100, or 250 workers, depending on the industry (most service industries were excluded). The survey conducted in 1987 covered only State and local governments with 50 or more employees. The surveys conducted in 1988 and 1989 included medium and large establishments with 100 workers or more in all private industries. The 1988 survey represented a significant expansion in the employment coverage over the 1979-86 surveys. The expansion increased the private sector employment coverage of the survey by nearly 50 percent. All surveys conducted over the 1979-89 period excluded establishments in Alaska and Hawaii, as well as part-time employees.
Since 1990, EBS has provided data on both full-time and part-time employees in all private industries and State and local governments. Surveys of State and local governments and small establishments are conducted in even-numbered years and surveys of medium and large establishments are conducted in odd-numbered years. The small establishment survey includes all private nonfarm establishments with fewer than 100 workers, while the State and local government surveys include all governments, regardless of the number of workers. All three surveys cover workers in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. Since 1990, the EBS has been collected jointly with the Employment Cost Index Program (see Employment Cost Trends).
Last Modified Date: October 16, 2001