National Compensation Survey

What are employer costs for wages and benefits?

Employer Costs for Wages and Benefits and Changes in CostsThe Employment Cost Index (ECI) component of the National Compensation Survey (NCS) is a Principal Federal Economic Indicator that measures changes in labor costs. Average hourly costs for employee compensation is presented in the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC) series.

Who has benefits?

Who has benefits and how do benefits work?The NCS also provides benefits incidence data on the percentage of workers with access to and participating in employer provided benefit plans. The survey covers a broad range of benefits including holidays and vacations, sick leave, health and life insurance, and retirement plans. Details of employer-provided health and retirement plan provisions are also provided.


Due to data processing problems, the December 2013 and March 2014 Employer Costs for Employee Compensation estimates for the management, professional, and related occupational group and sub-groups are incorrect as published. The database and historical listings will be corrected soon. The upcoming news release for June 2014 estimates is scheduled to be released on September 10, 2014. Historical news releases will not be corrected.

For Your Information

Changes in the presentation of the text section of The Employment Cost Index news release were incorporated in the edition published on July 31, 2009. There were no changes to the format and content of the tables. More...

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NCS News Releases

Employee Benefits in the United States

July 25, 2014
Medical care benefits were available to 86 percent of full-time private industry workers in March 2014 versus 23 percent of part-time workers. Paid sick leave was available to 74 percent of full- time private and 24 percent of part-time private workers. More...

Employment Cost Index (ECI)

July 31, 2014
Compensation costs up 0.7 percent for civilian workers, seasonally adjusted, from March- June 2014. Over the year, compensation rose 2.0 percent, wages and salaries 1.8 percent, and benefits 2.5 percent. More...

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC)

June 11, 2014
Private employers spent an average of $29.99 per hour worked for compensation in March 2014. Health insurance was the largest individual employer benefit cost at $2.36, accounting for 7.9 percent of total compensation costs. More...

Archived NCS News Releases

NCS Databases


Database Name Special
Tables Text Files
National Compensation Survey
Multi Screen Data Search Tables Text Files
Pay & Cost of Benefits
Employment Cost Index
Top Picks One Screen Data Search Multi Screen Data Search Tables Text Files
Employer Cost for Employee Compensation
Top Picks One Screen Data Search Multi Screen Data Search Tables Text Files
Benefit Incidence & Provisions
Employee Benefits Survey
(1985 to 2006)

Top Picks One Screen Data Search Multi Screen Data Search Text Files
National Compensation Survey - Benefits (Beginning with
2010 data)*
Top Picks Multi Screen Data Search Tables Text Files

*2007 to 2009 benefits data are not available in the National Compensation Survey data base.
For data during these years, see the NCS publication archive.

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Employment Cost Trends


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NCS Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the NCS?
  2. What is the status of Locality Pay Surveys (LPS)?
  3. What is the role of the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Federal pay administration process?
  4. How can an aggregate ECI series be lower, or higher, than all of its component series? For example, the 3-month seasonally adjusted percent change for compensation, civilian workers in March 2012, was 0.4 percent. However, the change for its two components-wages and salaries and benefits-are both 0.5 percent.

Links to Other NCS Products:

  1. NCS wage data?
  2. Data on compensation costs or employment cost trends?
  3. Benefit data?
  4. Work stoppages?

All NCS FAQs »

NCS Special Notice


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Contact Us


The Office of Compensation Levels and Trends, Branch of Survey Information and Publications, will be glad to assist you with questions about any of the components of the National Compensation Survey.

Ways to Contact BLS Directly

Email: Contact us

Telephone: (202) 691-6199 (Monday - Friday, 8:30 A.M. - 4:30 P.M.)

Question-by-FAX: (202) 691-6647

Information and assistance is also available from any BLS regional office.


Information voice phone: (202) 691-5200 The Federal Relay Service: 1-800-877-8339

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