BLS Releases Employer Costs for Employee Compensation

June 13, 2017

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), has released employer costs for employee compensation (ECEC) for March 2017. ECEC measures employer costs for wages, salaries, and employee benefits for non-farm private and state and local government workers.

ECEC averaged $35.28 per hour worked. Wages and salaries averaged $24.10 per hour worked and accounted for 68.3 percent of these costs, while benefits averaged $11.18 and accounted for the remaining 31.7 percent. Total employer compensation costs for private industry workers averaged $33.11 per hour worked.

Health Insurance Costs in Private Industry

The average cost for health insurance benefits was $2.50 per hour worked in private industry (7.6 percent of total compensation). Among occupational groups, employer costs for health insurance benefits ranged from 90 cents per hour worked and 5.8 percent of total compensation for service occupations, to $3.94 and 6.7 percent of total compensation for management, professional, and related occupations.

Employer costs for health insurance benefits were significantly higher for union workers, averaging $6.09 per hour worked (12.5 percent of total compensation), than for nonunion workers, averaging $2.16 (6.8 percent of total compensation). In goods-producing industries, health insurance benefit costs were higher, at $3.49 per hour worked (8.8 percent of total compensation), than in service-providing industries, at $2.30 (7.2 percent). In goods-producing industries, health insurance benefit costs were $3.77 (9.5 percent of total compensation) for manufacturing and $2.91 (7.5 percent) for construction. In service-providing industries, health insurance benefit costs ranged from $4.87 (9.0 percent) for information to 71 cents (5.0 percent) for leisure and hospitality.

Among the four regions, costs for health insurance benefits were $2.17 per hour worked (7.3 percent of total compensation) in the South, $3.14 (7.6 percent) in the Northeast, $2.51 (8.2 percent) in the Midwest, and $2.49 (7.3 percent) in the West.

Establishments with fewer than 50 workers averaged $1.65 per hour worked for healthcare benefits (6.1 percent of total compensation); those with 50-99 workers averaged $2.21 (7.2 percent); those with 100-499 employees averaged $2.70 (8.3 percent); and those with 500 or more employees averaged $4.35 (8.9 percent).

Benefit Costs in Private Industry

Private industry employer costs for paid leave averaged $2.30 per hour worked or 6.9 percent of total compensation, supplemental pay averaged $1.17 or 3.5 percent, insurance benefits averaged $2.65 or 8.0 percent, retirement and savings averaged $1.34 or 4.0 percent, and legally required benefits averaged $2.60 per hour worked or 7.8 percent.