Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Technical Note
Last Modified Date: September 17, 2020
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 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 25,500
occupational observations selected from a sample of about 6,300 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 have been updated based on Office of Management and Budget Bulletin No.
13-01, dated February 28, 2013. For more information see www.census.gov/programs-surveys/metro-micro.html.
Topics of news releases for the upcoming reference periods are as follows:
• September 2020 - Compensation costs in state and local government
• December 2020 - Supplemental pay costs in private industry
• March 2021 - Compensation costs by wage percentile and 15 metropolitan areas
The 2020 ECEC release dates are available at www.bls.gov/schedule/news_release/ecec.htm.