Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

National Compensation Survey - Wages

National Compensation Survey Overview

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Office of Compensation Levels and Trends (OCLT) is redesigning its compensation statistics to reflect the workplace of the 21st century. This initiative is named the National Compensation Survey (NCS); formerly, it was called COMP2000. Under the COMP2000 banner, BLS conducted six test surveys using new concepts and procedures for selecting occupations and determining the level of duties and responsibilities of those occupations.

Following the completion of these test surveys, BLS began collection of wage data in October 1996 for a nationwide program of locality surveys. Publications from these surveys are now available. Currently, BLS is developing the employee benefits portion of this new program.

When fully operational, the National Compensation Survey will provide wage and benefit data for localities, geographic regions, and the U.S. as a whole. Data from the National Compensation Survey will be used to produce the Employment Cost Index and to expand the available output from that program. Survey data also will be used to maintain and to expand BLS compensation publications on wages by work level, benefit incidence, benefit provisions, and employer costs for compensation.

Mission of the NCS

To design, organize, and implement a compensation program that integrates data from three existing BLS programs—the Employment Cost Index (ECI), the Occupational Compensation Survey (OCS), and the Employee Benefits Survey (EBS)—by the end of the decade. The resulting program will produce high quality, relevant, and timely data on levels and trends in compensation, making efficient use of available resources while minimizing respondent burden.

Goals of the NCS

  • Create a comprehensive statistical compensation survey program
  • Provide superior customer service and support
  • Develop uniform, consistent, and efficient processes
  • Become more responsive to customers by providing data that fits changing needs
  • Continue to provide current products
  • Expand products and services
  • Produce data using state-of-the-art technology
  • Develop full partnership with all interested constituencies


The NCS will cover civilian workers in private industry establishments and state and local governments. It excludes private households, the Federal government, and agriculture.

The NCS will cover establishments in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The NCS data will cover approximately 36,000 establishments. Special surveys (such as those done by contract to meet the requirements of the Service Contract Act for may require the inclusion of establishments in other U.S. territories and possessions, such as Puerto Rico; these areas will not be included in the basic program.

The NCS will cover establishments with one or more workers, regardless of industry.

Establishment and Occupation Sampling

The establishment sample for the NCS will be derived from a sample of 154 metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas designed to represent the United States. Every fiscal year, thirty to thirty-five of these metropolitan areas will be "certainty" areas that have a 100 percent chance of being selected. These are the metropolitan areas with nonagricultural employment over 560,000. BLS will be able to publish data on the compensation levels and trends of each of these areas. The remaining areas will be taken from a probability sample of all metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas in the U.S.

A small number of occupations within an establishment will be selected through probability proportional to size sampling, meaning that occupations will be selected in each establishment using a process that gives occupations with greater employment a greater chance of selection. Each selected occupation will be classified into one of several occupation level codes based on the work being performed.

Integrated Outputs

BLS began collecting the wage portion of the NCS starting in the fall of 1996 and will begin collection of employee benefits in 1999. Additional output will follow over time. In addition to paper copies, published data will be available from the Internet.

Index Measures

  • Continued output of quarterly national indexes with existing subseries (ECI)
  • Indexes for selected localities

Benefit Measures

  • Continued annual national cost level data with existing subseries (ECEC)
  • Cost levels data for selected localities
  • Continued output of benefit incidence and provisions series (EBS)
  • Benefit incidence data for selected localities

Wage Measures

  • Wage data for generic job levels
  • Wage data for some individual occupations


Last Modified Date: February 7, 2020