National Compensation Survey

Data Collection

The National Compensation Survey (NCS) provides comprehensive measures of occupational earnings, employment cost trends (ECI, ECEC) and benefit incidence and detailed benefit provisions. These statistics are available for select metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas, regions, and the Nation.

BLS field economists visit establishments across the country and ask a series of questions. For example:


During this interview, the field economist is able to obtain wage data by occupation and work level. Work levels are determined using a "point factor leveling" process. This procedure incorporates four occupational leveling factors to determine the work level. The factors are:

- Knowledge - Job controls and complexity
- Contacts - Physical environment

Leveling information may be obtained either during the interview or from a formal job description received from the respondent. The type of data outlined above allows NCS to publish occupational wage statistics for localities, census divisions, and the Nation.


NCS also collects data on benefit incidence (the percentage of workers with access to and participation in employer provided benefit plans) and detailed benefit provisions. Availability, plan provision, and employee cost (i.e., required employee premiums for insurance or required contributions) data are published for various benefit categories. In addition, the NCS program collects limited data on over 20 emerging (or nontraditional) benefits such as child care assistance, flexible workplace, long-term care insurance, employee assistance programs, subsidized commuting, and stock options .

The ECI tracks changes over time in total benefit costs as well as benefit cost levels information (in the form of costs per hour worked and percent of total compensation) in the ECEC. There are 5 categories of benefits for which incidence/participation, provisions, and/or cost data are collected. They are:

Last Modified Date: July 2, 2008

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