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.

Sample size

Data for the December 2017 reference period were collected from a probability sample of 
approximately 27,600 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 

ECEC 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 cost
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.

ECEC quarterly publication focus

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

For information on 2018 ECEC release dates, see

ECEC 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 state and local
government workers with access to and participating in employer-sponsored benefit plans, including
health care as well as retirement and savings plans. Employer costs for retirement and savings
plans are affected by several factors, including the percentage of employees participating in
employer-sponsored plans. For the latest information on retirement and savings provisions, see

Table of Contents

Last Modified Date: March 20, 2018