Technical Note


Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC) measures the average cost to employers for wages 
and salaries and benefits per employee hour worked. The ECEC includes the civilian economy, which 
includes data from both private industry and state and local government. Excluded from private 
industry are the self-employed and farm and private household workers. Federal government workers 
are excluded from the public sector. The private industry series and the state and local 
government series provide data for the two sectors separately.

All workers are included in the benefit cost estimates including those that do not have plan 
access or do not participate. Costs are also affected by other factors such as cost sharing 
between employers and employees, plan features, and plan generosity.

Sample size

Data for the March 2018 reference period were collected from a probability sample of 
approximately 27,300 occupational observations selected from a sample of about 6,600 private 
industry establishments and approximately 8,000 occupational observations selected from a sample
of about 1,400 state and local government establishments that provided data at the initial 

Standard errors

Relative standard errors for all estimates in the most recent news release are available at

Benchmarking by establishment size and industry

For information on benchmarking by establishment size and industry, see The Weighting Process Used 
in the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Series for the National Compensation Survey, at

Comparing private and public sector data

Compensation cost levels in state and local government should not be directly compared with levels 
in private industry. Differences between these sectors stem from factors such as variation in work 
activities and occupational structures. Manufacturing and sales, for example, make up a large part 
of private industry work activities but are rare in state and local government. Professional and 
administrative support occupations (including teachers) account for two-thirds of the state and 
local government workforce, compared with one-half of private industry.

Quarterly publication focus

This quarter’s release focuses on compensation costs in selected metropolitan areas and health 
benefit costs in private industry. Topics of news releases for the upcoming reference periods are 
as follows:
• June 2018—Retirement and savings benefit costs in private industry
• September 2018—Compensation costs in state and local government

For information on 2018 ECEC release dates, see

Detailed information and measures

For detailed information on ECEC, see “National Compensation Measures,” of the BLS Handbook of 
Methods at The National Compensation Survey also produces data 
on the percentage of workers with access to and participating in employer-sponsored benefit plans, 
including health care and retirement and savings plans. For the latest information, see 

Table of Contents

Last Modified Date: June 08, 2018