Private industry employers spent an average of $28.57 per hour worked for total employee compensation in December 2011. Wages and salaries averaged $20.14 per hour worked and accounted for 70.5 percent of these costs, while benefits averaged $8.43 and accounted for the remaining 29.5 percent.
The average cost for legally required benefits was $2.33 per hour worked in private industry (8.1 percent of total compensation) in December 2011. Social Security comprises the largest legally required benefit cost component at $1.34 per hour or 4.7 percent of total compensation. Legally required benefits such as Social Security and Medicare are often directly linked to wages; therefore, higher paid occupations or industries will typically show higher cost estimates for this compensation component.
Costs for other legally required benefits include workers' compensation, which averaged 41 cents per hour worked (1.4 percent of total compensation); Medicare, which averaged 33 cents (1.2 percent); state unemployment insurance, which averaged 21 cents per hour worked (0.8 percent); and federal unemployment insurance, which averaged just 2 cents per hour worked (0.1 percent).
Employer costs for legally required benefits varied by establishment size and industry. Legally required benefits costs for private industry establishments with fewer than 50 workers were $2.06 per hour worked in December 2011, compared with $2.22 for establishments with 50 to 99 employees, $2.34 for establishments with 100 to 499 employees, and $2.96 for establishments with 500 employees or more.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Employer costs for legally required benefits in December 2011 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2012/ted_20120322.htm (visited August 19, 2022).