Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Technical Note
Last Modified Date: June 17, 2021
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
Total benefit costs consist of five major categories and include 18 benefit costs:
* Paid leave - vacation, holiday, sick, and personal leave;
* Supplemental pay - overtime and premium, shift differentials, and nonproduction bonuses;
* Insurance - life, health, short-term and long-term disability;
* Retirement and savings - defined benefit and defined contribution; and
* Legally required benefits - Social Security (refers to Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability
Insurance (OASDI) program), Medicare, federal and state unemployment insurance, and Workers’
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 www.bls.gov/ebs.
The “National Compensation Measures” provides additional details on the sample design, calculation
methodology, and resources explaining changes over time. (See www.bls.gov/opub/hom/ncs/home.htm.)
Additional ECEC estimates, including historical data, are available in the ECEC database query tool
Data for this reference period were collected from a probability sample of approximately 24,300
occupational observations selected from a sample of about 6,000 private industry establishments and
approximately 7,700 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 (RSEs) provide users a tool to ascertain the quality of an estimate to
ensure that it is within an acceptable range for their intended purpose. RSEs are available at
www.bls.gov/ncs/ect/ecec-rse.htm and database query tool at www.bls.gov/ncs/ect/data.htm.
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.
Metropolitan area definitions are based on the Office of Management and Budget Bulletin
No. 13-01, dated February 28, 2013. For more information see
Topics of news releases for the upcoming reference periods are as follows:
* June 2021 - Health benefit costs in private industry
* September 2021 - Compensation costs in state and local government
* December 2021 - Supplemental pay costs in private industry
For 2021 ECEC release dates, see www.bls.gov/schedule/news_release/ecec.htm.