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.

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NCS News Releases

Retirement benefits available to 66 percent of private industry workers in March 2015


Retirement benefit access for private workers ranged from 31 percent for the lowest 10 percent of wage earners to 88 percent for the highest 10 percent. Nonunion workers paid 22 percent of single coverage medical premiums and union workers paid 13 percent.

Compensation costs up 0.6% Dec 2015-Mar 2016 and up 1.9% over the year ending March


Compensation costs increased 0.6 percent for civilian workers, seasonally adjusted, from December 2015 to March 2016. Over the year, compensation rose 1.9 percent, wages and salaries are up 2.0 percent, and benefits rose 1.7 percent.
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Civilian compensation costs average $33.58 per hour worked in December


Employer costs for civilian workers averaged $23.06 per hour worked for wages and salaries and $10.52 for benefits in December 2015. Private industry supplemental pay benefit costs averaged $1.06 per hour worked.

Archived NCS News Releases

NCS Databases


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

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

*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.

More Tools

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NCS Tables

NCS Tables

NCS Publications


Employment Cost Trends


Other Documents

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


Related Links to Other BLS Programs

Other Useful Links

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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Washington, D.C. 20212-0001

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