January 22, 1999
In March 1998, employer costs for employee compensation averaged $18.50 per hour for private industry workers. The compensation package broke down to $13.47 per hour for wages and $5.02 per hour for benefits. The proportion of compensation spent on benefits was about 27 percent—a share that has changed little over the past 12 years.
From 1986 to 1998, the proportion of compensation accounted for by benefits costs has held within the narrow range of 27 to 29 percent. The higher figure was reported in 1993 and 1994, when increases in the cost of health insurance and legally-required benefits, notably workers compensation, pushed the benefits share higher.
Legally-required benefits, including Social Security, were the largest component of benefit costs at about 9 percent. Other benefits with high relative cost shares were paid leave and insurance (mostly health care), each at roughly 6 percent in 1998.