Employee Benefits Survey

Technical Note

Data in this bulletin are from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), which is conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The bulletin contains 2011 data on detailed employer-provided health benefit plan provisions for state and local government workers in the United States. Excluded from the 2011 survey are federal government workers. Previous publications containing information on employee benefits for civilian, private industry, and state and local government workers are available on the BLS website: http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/.

Calculation details

For data presented by wage levels, average hourly earnings for occupations within an establishment were used to produce estimates for worker groups within six earnings groupings: the lowest 10 percent, the lowest 25 percent, the second 25 percent, the third 25 percent, the highest 25 percent, and the highest 10 percent. Individual workers can fall into an earnings category different from the average for the occupation into which they are classified. The earnings categories are based on the average wage for each occupation surveyed, which may include workers both above and below the threshold. The categories are based on wages published in "National Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States, 2010, Bulletin 2753 (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2011). Values corresponding to the percentiles used in the tables are:

Characteristic Hourly wage percentile
10 25 50 (median) 75 90

State and local government workers

$11.77
$15.52
$22.27
$33.01
$45.31

Not determinable estimates

Some tables in this bulletin contain columns with estimates classified as "not determinable." The reasons for this classification may vary. In detailed provisions of employer-provided health care plans, the "not determinable" classification is used whenever partial information on a particular plan feature is available from the Summary Plan Description (SPD). The SPD is used as a primary source of information on the provisions of a health benefit plan. For example, in one of the tables, workers are classified as participating in four types of fee-for-service plans. Those workers that were known to be participating in a fee-for-service plan—but the plan type was either not specified or was specified but did not fit into any of the four categories used in the table—were classified in the "not determinable" category.

Another situation in which the "not determinable" classification may be used is when workers are participating in plans in which a provision is known to exist, but no information on the specific details of this provision is available from the SPD. For example, in one of the tables, all workers participate in fee-for-service plans. The majority of the workers that make up the base of this table participated in plans that specified a deductible, but a small percentage of workers participated in plans in which the deductible was mentioned but not described. These workers were classified in the "not determinable" category.

Interpreting the tables

The set of workers on which estimates in the tables are based is indicated by the statement directly under each table’s title. For example, the statement may say, “All workers participating in medical care plans = 100 percent,” or “All workers participating in fee-for-service plans = 100 percent.” All estimates shown in the table are based on the set of workers specified in statements underneath the table title and on any subsets indicated by column headers.

Most of the estimates in this bulletin are expressed in terms of the percentage of workers participating in a particular benefit plan or the percentage covered by a specific provision. Some estimates, however, provide values other than percentages of workers. For example, they might provide both the type and dollar amount of annual individual deductibles in fee-for-service plans. The base of this table is all workers participating in fee-for-service plans. The non-shaded estimates are percentage of workers by the type of deductible (e.g., fixed deductible, variable deductible, etc.). Shaded estimates are those that measure values other than the percentage of workers. Shading is only used when there is a mixture of percentages and dollar values.

Survey sample

The 2011 survey included a sample of approximately 2,000 establishments.

Data for the East South Central census division did not meet publication criteria for all tables except the dental care benefits tables, but are included in all estimates except those by geographic area.

Obtaining additional information

Information on the survey scope, sample design, data collection, survey estimation, reliability of estimates, technical references, and survey definitions is available in Chapter 8 of the BLS Handbook of Methods, http://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/homch8.htm. Definitions of major plans, key provisions, and related benefit terms used by the National Compensation Survey are provided in the Glossary of Employee Benefit Terms, http://www.bls.gov//ncs/ebs/glossary20102011.htm.

Last Modified Date: March 30, 2012

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