Employment Cost Trends

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

On this Page:

  1. Is the ECI adjusted for inflation?
  2. What is the Employment Cost index for individual occupations in the U.S.?
  3. How can I get annualized ECI data?
  4. What's the average raise?
  5. Does the ECI publish indexes for individual areas?
  6. How do I calculate the percent change between two time periods?
  7. What impact can incentive paid workers have on the ECI?
  8. Once I have identified the series I want to use, how should I reference it to make sure it will not be confused with another series?
  9. Where can I get wage determinations data?
  10. Where can I obtain information on minimum wage and overtime laws and regulations?
  11. Where can I find Employment Cost Index (wages & salaries and benefits) historical data?
  12. How often are the ECI and ECEC published?
  13. Does BLS interpret or forecast data on ECI and ECEC?
  14. Is there a survey which shows compensation and benefits as a part of compensation?
  15. Do you have breakdowns of the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation by state?
  16. Does the Employment Cost Index include stock options?
  17. 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--are both 0.5 percent?

Is the ECI adjusted for inflation?

The ECI data found in the news releases are not inflation-adjusted. However, constant dollar ECI data are available. See Historical Listings under Tables Created by BLS.

What is the Employment Cost index for individual occupations in the U.S.?

The Employment Cost Index (ECI) does not publish data by individual occupation. .

How can I get annualized ECI data?

The Employment Cost Index does not provide annualized data. The 12-month changes for each quarter are the closest alternative. For example, the 12-month change for the December quarter includes data for the period including the 12th of the month (December 12th). .

What's the average raise?

We don't have data on average raises. But we do produce the Employment Cost Index (ECI), which measures the changes in the cost of labor, free from the influence of employment shifts among occupations and industries. .

Does the ECI publish indexes for individual areas?

We don't publish indexes for areas but do produce 12-month percent changes for total compensation and wages and salaries for private industry workers in 15 metropolitan areas..

How do I calculate the percent change between two time periods?

The formula is: [(x/y - 1) * 100] where x = ending quarter's index value and y = beginning quarter's index value. For an example, see calculation.

What impact can incentive paid workers have on the ECI?

Incentive paid workers can have a large impact in some occupational groups. Workers whose earnings rely heavily on commissions can have wide fluctuations due to seasonality or economic conditions. For example, in the December 2010 estimates, the 3-month percent change in sales and related workers (not seasonally adjusted) was 0.7 percent. For sales and related workers, excluding incentive paid workers, the comparable change was 0.1 percent. The ECI publishes "excluding incentive paid" series for users who want to exclude these workers because of the volatility they can cause.

Once I have identified the series I want to use, how should I reference it to make sure it will not be confused with another series?

To insure the uniqueness of a series, you must include the following: the Employment Cost Index, Component, Ownership, Group, Seasonality, Base as published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. To view the options available for the italicized words, see series options.

Where can I get wage determinations data?

Cross-industry wage determinations under the Service Contract Act and construction industry wage determinations under the Davis-Bacon Act are available from the, U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division.

Where can I obtain information on minimum wage and overtime laws and regulations?

Legal questions concerning wage and hour requirements may be addressed to the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division. For statistics about minimum wage contact BLS at 202-691-6378.

Where can I find Employment Cost Index (wages & salaries and benefits) historical data?

Go to Compensation Cost Trends. Here you have two options: 1) Select "ECT Databases" and select one of the data retrieval methods: or 2) Select "ECT Tables" and choose of the historical listings.

How often are the ECI and ECEC published?

The ECI and ECEC are published on a quarterly basis, with reference periods for the pay period including the 12th day of the survey months of March, June, September, and December. The ECI is published in the month following the reference period. The ECEC is published approximately 2 1/2 months after the month of reference.

Does BLS interpret or forecast data on ECI and ECEC?

BLS does not interpret or forecast ECI and ECEC data. However, explanatory notes are provided with every news release and bulletin to make reading and understanding the data easier.

Is there a survey that shows wages and salaries and benefits as a part of compensation?

The Employer Cost for Employee Compensation (ECEC) measures the average cost per hour worked that employers pay for wages and salaries, plus the cost for benefits. Total compensation consists of wages and salaries plus benefits. These data are available online at Employment Cost Trends. Click on links in the Economic News Release section of the ECT homepage for these current data.

Do you have breakdowns of the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation by state?

We do not have ECEC data by State. We have data by the four census regions and by the nine census divisions. In addition, wages and salaries and benefits in private industry are produced annually in the March reference period for 15 metropolitan areas. These data are available from the Compensation Cost Trends page. Select "economic news releases" and then choose ECEC.

Does the Employment Cost Index include stock options?

The ECI does not include stock options. We have conducted tests in order to determine the prevalence of stock options across the economy and currently collect stock options access as an emerging benefit.

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.

It is possible for an aggregate series' percent change to fall outside of its component series because the published index numbers, which are used to calculate the percent changes, are rounded (to one decimal place). We do this so that users can replicate our calculations of the published 3-month and 12-month percent changes. This effect is more likely to occur with seasonally adjusted series because of additional rounding that may occur in application of seasonal adjustment factors. In the example noted (March 2012), if the index number for the aggregate series' current reference period (in this case March 2012) was just 0.1 point higher (the smallest increment possible)-116.3 instead of 116.2-the 3-month percent change would round to 0.5 percent, just like its component series.


Calculation (question #1)

A. Determine the index numbers for the beginning quarter and the ending quarter, B. Divide the ending quarter by the beginning quarter. C. Subtract 1 from the quotient derived in step B. D. Multiply the value from step C by 100. E. Round the value from step D to 1 decimal place.

Example: Calculate the percent change in wages and salaries for private industry workers from December 2007 to December 2011.

A. December 2007 = 106.6 and December 2011 = 114.6

B. 114.6/106.6 = 1.07505

C. 1.07505 - 1 = 0.07505

D. .07505 * 100 = 7.505

E. 7.5 rounded = 7.5%


Series Options (question #3)

First, determine the following parts of each series:

Component: Compensation, Wages and salaries, or Benefits Ownership: Civilian, State and local government, or Private industry Group: See Group List (this identifies the industry, occupation, census region or division, bargaining status, or metropolitan area status)
Seasonality: Seasonally adjusted, or not seasonally adjusted
Base: Currently, this is December 2005 = 100.

Second, cite the data as "the Employment Cost Index (ECI), Component, Ownership, Group, Seasonality, Base as published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics."

Do not cite table numbers or specific publications as official sources because these may change over time. However, you may want to note that the data appeared in table X in a particular issue of a particular publication and its current value. You may also want to include the NCS contact information. For example:

"Employment Cost Index (ECI), Wages and Salaries, Private Industry, All Workers, Not Seasonally Adjusted (December 2005 = 100) as published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics."

"These data may be obtained by contacting the NCS information office at 202.691.6199. The December 2011 for this series, as published in January 2012 was 114.6.

Last Modified Date: January 3, 2013

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