Benefits Were 30.8 Percent Of Total Compensation In September 2012, BLS Finds

from Spencer’s Benefits Reports: Employer-provided benefits costs for civilian workers in private industry and state and local governments in September 2012 averaged $9.48 per hour worked, accounting for 30.8 percent of total compensation costs, which averaged $30.80 per hour worked. The cost of benefits as a percentage of compensation has risen in the past three years from 27.4 percent of total compensation, although that percentage has been relatively stable over the last two years. These are among the findings of the September 2012 Employer Costs for Employee Compensation report, produced quarterly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Insurance benefits costs averaged $2.76 per hour, or 9.0 percent of total compensation, in September 2012, representing the largest nonwage employer cost (see chart below). Legally required benefits costs averaged $2.41 (7.8 percent), employer costs for paid leave benefits averaged $2.14 (6.9 percent), and the cost of retirement and savings benefits averaged $1.42 (4.6 percent).

Private industry. According to the BLS, private industry benefits costs averaged $8.58 per hour in September 2012, accounting for 29.7 percent of total compensation costs, which averaged $28.95 per hour worked. Private industry employer costs for paid leave averaged $1.98 per hour worked (6.8 percent), insurance benefits averaged $2.37 (8.2 percent), retirement and savings benefits averaged $1.03 (3.5 percent), and legally required benefits averaged $2.38 (8.2 percent).

Health care benefits, private industry. The average cost for health care benefits in private industry was $2.24 per hour worked (7.7 percent of total compensation) in September 2012. Among occupational groups, employer costs for health care benefits ranged from $2.60 per hour and 8.2 percent of total compensation for natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations; and $2.45 (10.1 percent) for production, transportation, and material moving occupations. Health care benefits for goods-producing industries averaged $3.03 per hour (8.9 percent of total compensation), compared with $2.07 (7.4 percent) for service-producing industries.

State and local governments. In September 2012, state and local government benefits costs accounted for 35.3 percent of total compensation, or $14.65 per hour worked. Employer costs for insurance benefits averaged $5.02 per hour, or 12.1 percent of total compensation. The largest component of insurance costs was for health insurance, which averaged $4.86 per hour worked, or 11.7 percent of total compensation. The average cost for retirement and savings benefits in state and local governments was $3.68 per hour worked, or 8.9 percent of total compensation. Costs for legally required benefits averaged $2.54 per hour worked, or 6.1 percent of total compensation.

Relative Importance Of Employer Costs For

Employee Compensation, September 2012


  All Civilian Workers State, Local Governments Private Industry
Wages and salaries 69.2% 64.7% 70.3%
Benefits 30.8 35.3 29.7
Paid leave 6.9 7.4 6.8
Supplemental pay 2.4 0.8 2.8
Insurance 9.0 12.1 8.2
Health care benefits 8.5 11.7 7.7
Retirement and savings 4.6 8.9 3.6
Defined benefit 2.8 8.1 1.5
Defined contribution 1.8 0.8 2.1
Legally required 7.8 6.1 8.2

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