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Economic News Release
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Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Technical Note

                                            TECHNICAL NOTE

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC), a product of the National Compensation Survey,
provides the average employer cost for wages and salaries as well as benefits per employee hour worked.

The ECEC covers the civilian economy, which includes data from both private industry and state and local
government. Excluded from private industry are the self-employed, agricultural workers, and private
household workers. Federal government workers are excluded from the public sector.

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. For the latest information on the percentage of workers
with access to and participating in employer-sponsored benefit plans, including health care and
retirement and savings plans, see

The “National Compensation Measures,” provides additional details on the sample design, calculation
methodology, and resources explaining changes over time. (See
Additional ECEC estimates, including historical data, are available in the ECEC database query tool at

Sample size 
Data for this reference period were collected from a probability sample of approximately
25,500 occupational observations selected from a sample of about 6,300 private industry establishments
and approximately 7,800 occupational observations selected from a sample of about 1,400 state and local
government establishments that provided data at the initial interview.

Measures of reliability
Relative standard errors provide users a tool to judge the quality of an estimate to ensure that it is
within an acceptable range for their intended purpose. Available at
and database query tool at

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. 

Publication focus
Topics of news releases for the upcoming reference periods are as follows:

• March 2020 - Compensation costs by wage percentile and 15 metropolitan areas
• June 2020 - Health benefit costs in private industry
• September 2020 - Compensation costs in  state and local government

For the 2020 ECEC release dates, see

Table of Contents

Last Modified Date: March 19, 2020