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Employee Benefits Survey
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Recent data on retirement benefits from the National Compensation Survey (NCS) and related research articles


The National Compensation Survey (NCS) provides comprehensive information on defined contribution and defined benefit retirement plans. Under the NCS program, information on the incidence and provisions of benefits is published in stages. A bulletin is published with a March reference date each year with data collected from respondents for civilian (as defined by NCS), state and local government, and private industry workers, on the access to, and participation in, selected benefits such as retirement. A second publication, based on employer documentation of benefit plans, is published annually with more detailed information on basic provisions of defined benefit and defined contribution retirement plans. Also, additional data on provisions of retirement plans are published on a rotating basis. Employer Costs for Employee Compensation are published quarterly. Included are costs of defined benefit plans, defined contribution plans, and employer Social Security contributions for different occupational and industry groups, worker characteristics, and geographic areas.

Employee Benefits (Retirement)

Employment Cost Trends

  • Historical series on retirement benefit costs per hour worked, 2004 to present, at Employer costs per hour worked for retirement and savings plans were $0.99 in March 2004; in March 2017 the costs were $1.92.

Published Articles

  • Are older Americans healthy enough to work longer?Monthly Labor Review, April 2016 (examines the issues of workforce participation and retirement of older Americans in light of their state of health as well as their changing eligibility for Social Security and Medicare benefits).
  • A look at today's pension equity plansBeyond the Numbers: Pay and Benefits, April 2015, (looks at the features of pension equity plans in light of the changes in retirement benefits over the last several decades).
  • Concerns about health insurance and retirementMonthly Labor Review, April 2013 (reviews "Health Insurance Coverage in Retirement: the Erosion of Retiree Income Security," Christian E. Weller, Jeffrey Wenger, and Elise Gould).
  • Who has benefits in private industry in 2012?Beyond the Numbers: Pay and Benefits, September 2012, (focuses on access to and participation in retirement and other benefits by various worker and establishment characteristics).
  • How Does Your 401(K) Match Up?Compensation and Working Conditions Online, May 2010, (overview of NCS terms for typical Savings and Thrift plans).
  • Program Perspectives on Defined-Benefit PlansProgram Perspectives, April 2010, (data on the frequency, accrual of benefits, and alternatives to frozen defined-benefit plans as well as the length of time since the plans were frozen).


Last Modified Date: May 15, 2018