FOR RELEASE 10:00 A.M. (EST) THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2016 USDL-16-2255
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EMPLOYER COSTS FOR EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION – SEPTEMBER 2016
Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $34.15 per hour worked in September 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Wages and salaries averaged $23.42 per hour worked and accounted for 68.6 percent of these costs, while benefits averaged $10.73 and accounted
for the remaining 31.4 percent. Total employer compensation costs for private industry workers averaged $32.27 per hour worked in September 2016.
Total employer compensation costs for state and local government workers averaged $45.93 per hour worked in September 2016.
Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC), a product of the National Compensation Survey, measures employer costs for wages, salaries, and
employee benefits for nonfarm private and state and local government workers.
Compensation costs in state and local government
State and local government employers spent an average of $45.93 per hour worked for employee compensation in September 2016. Wages and salaries
averaged $29.06 per hour and accounted for 63.3 percent of compensation costs, while benefits averaged $16.87 per hour worked and accounted for
the remaining 36.7 percent. Total compensation costs for management, professional, and related workers averaged $55.25 per hour worked. This major
occupational group includes teachers, averaging $62.39 per hour worked. Total compensation for sales and office workers averaged $32.05 per hour
worked and service workers averaged $35.16. (See table 3 and 4.)
In September 2016, the average cost for retirement and savings benefits was $4.98 per hour worked in state and local government, or 10.9 percent of
total compensation. Retirement and savings costs for management, professional, and related workers averaged $5.94 per hour worked, sales and office
workers averaged $3.09, and service workers averaged $4.32. (See chart 1 and table 3.) Included in retirement and savings benefits were employer
costs for defined benefit plans, which averaged $4.61 per hour (10.0 percent of total compensation), and defined contribution plans, which averaged
37 cents (0.8 percent). (See chart 2 and table 3.) Defined benefit plans specify a formula for determining future benefits, while defined
contribution plans specify employer contributions but do not guarantee the amount of future benefits.
For state and local government employees, employer costs for insurance benefits averaged $5.55 per hour, or 12.1 percent of total compensation.
Insurance benefit costs include life insurance, health insurance, and short-term and long-term disability. The largest component of insurance costs
in September 2016 was health insurance, which averaged $5.41, or 11.8 percent of total compensation. (See chart 2 and table 3.)
Two components of benefit costs are paid leave and legally required benefits. Paid leave benefit costs include vacation, holiday, sick leave, and
personal leave. The average cost for paid leave was $3.28 per hour worked for state and local government employees. Costs for legally required
benefits, including Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance (both state and federal), and workers’ compensation, averaged $2.67 per hour
worked. (See table 3.)
The National Compensation Survey also produces data on the percentage of state and local government workers with access to and participation in
employee benefit plans, including health and retirement and savings plans. Detailed data on health and retirement plan provisions are available at
Benefit costs in private industry
Private industry employer costs for paid leave averaged $2.21 per hour worked or 6.9 percent of total compensation, supplemental pay averaged $1.16
or 3.6 percent, insurance benefits averaged $2.59 or 8.0 percent, retirement and savings averaged $1.25 or 3.9 percent, and legally required
benefits averaged $2.54 per hour worked or 7.9 percent. (See table A and table 5.)
Table A. Relative importance of employer costs for employee compensation, September 2016
Compensation Civilian Private State and local
component workers(1) industry government
Wages and salaries 68.6% 69.8% 63.3%
Benefits 31.4 30.2 36.7
Paid leave 6.9 6.9 7.1
Supplemental pay 3.1 3.6 0.8
Insurance 8.8 8.0 12.1
Health benefits 8.4 7.6 11.8
Retirement and savings 5.2 3.9 10.9
Defined benefit 3.2 1.7 10.0
Defined contribution 1.9 2.2 0.8
Legally required 7.5 7.9 5.8
1 Includes workers in the private nonfarm economy except those in private households, and
workers in the public sector, except the federal government.
Employer Costs for Employee Compensation for December 2016 is scheduled to be released on Friday, March 17, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. (EDT).
Employer Costs for Employee Compensation data on total compensation, wages and salaries, and benefits in private industry are produced annually in
the March reference period for 15 metropolitan areas. For further information about metropolitan area ECEC estimates see the September 2009 article:
“BLS Introduces New Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Data for Private Industry Workers in 15 Metropolitan Areas,” at
Supplemental tables with occupational, establishment size, and bargaining status series by industry group are available at
www.bls.gov/ncs/ect/sp/ecsuptc40.pdf and www.bls.gov/ncs/ect/sp/ecsuphst.pdf.
Relative standard errors for all cost estimates in the most recent news release and supplementary tables are available at
www.bls.gov/ncs/ect/sp/ececrse.pdf and www.bls.gov/ncs/ect/sp/ecsuprse.pdf.
Historical ECEC data are available in three listings, all available at www.bls.gov/ect/#tables. The earliest historical listing covers data for the
March reference periods from 1986 to 2001. These data use the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and Census of Population occupational
classification systems. A second listing contains data for the March, June, September, and December reference periods from March 2002 to December
2003. These data are also based on the SIC and Census of Population occupational classification systems. The most recent listing includes data from
March 2004 to the current reference period. These are based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and Standard Occupational
Classification (SOC) systems.
The Consolidated Statistical Areas (CSAs) and Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) are defined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 2003
area definitions. For more information on the area definitions, visit www.census.gov/population/metro/data/pastmetro.html.
Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request—
Telephone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.
BLS news releases, including the ECEC, are available through an e-mail subscription service at: www.bls.gov/bls/list.htm.