Retirement costs share of compensation rises from 1966-98
April 14, 1999
In 1998, employer compensation costs for retirement benefits in the private sector accounted for 8.5 percent of total compensation, compared to 5.4 percent of total compensation in 1966. Most of the increase in the cost share occurred between 1966 and 1977. Retirement costs are the sum of employer payments towards company-provided retirement plans and Social Security.
Social Security costs rose from 2.8 percent of total compensation in 1966 to 3.7 percent in 1977 and 4.8 percent in 1988, before edging down to 4.7 percent in 1998. Those cost changes can be linked to rises in Social Security tax rates and in the maximum level of earnings upon which the tax is imposed.
The share of employer costs for employee retirement plans changed from 2.6 percent of total compensation in 1966 to 4.3 percent in 1977, 3.3 percent in 1988, and 3.8 percent in 1998. In 1966, defined benefit retirement plans accounted for nearly all the costs for employer retirement plans. After the enactment of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in 1974, the share of total compensation accounted for by defined contribution plans rose from 0.2 percent in 1977 to 0.5 percent in 1988 and to 1.4 percent in 1998.
These data are a product of the BLS Employment Cost Trends program. Additional information is available from "Tracking Changes in Benefits Costs" (PDF 46K), Compensation and Working Conditions, Spring 1999.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Retirement costs share of compensation rises from 1966-98 on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/1999/apr/wk2/art03.htm (visited January 22, 2017).
Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics
Workplace injuries and illnesses and employer costs for workers’ compensation
Workplace injury and illness data and the costs to employers for workers’ compensation in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations.
A look at the future of the U.S. labor force to 2060
Projected long-term trends in the growth, size, and composition of the labor force.
Union membership in the United States
Historical trends in union membership among employed wage and salary workers; union membership by a variety of demographic characteristics.
A look at healthcare spending, employment, pay, benefits, and prices
Spending on healthcare, current and projected employment in the industry, employer-provided healthcare benefits, healthcare prices, and pay for workers in healthcare occupations.
Self-employment in the United States
Trends in self-employment by various demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, including both the unincorporated and the incorporated self-employed, as well as data on paid employees who work for the self-employed.