Economic News Release

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation news release text

FOR RELEASE 10:00 A.M. (EST) WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2015                                   USDL-15-2329

Technical information:  (202) 691-6199 
Media contact:          (202) 691-5902


Employer costs for employee compensation for civilian workers averaged $33.37 per hour worked in 
September 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Wages and salaries averaged 
$22.88 per hour worked and accounted for 68.6 percent of these costs, while benefits averaged $10.48 
and accounted for the remaining 31.4 percent. Total employer compensation costs for private industry 
workers averaged $31.53 per hour worked in September 2015.  

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC), a product of the National Compensation Survey, 
measures employer costs for wages and salaries, and employee benefits for nonfarm private and state and 
local government workers. 

Compensation costs in state and local government

State and local government employers spent an average of $44.66 per hour worked for employee 
compensation in September 2015. Wages and salaries averaged $28.45 per hour and accounted for 63.7 
percent of compensation costs, while benefits averaged $16.21 per hour worked and accounted for the 
remaining 36.3 percent. Total compensation costs for management, professional, and related workers 
averaged $54.02 per hour worked. This major occupational group includes teachers, averaging $60.92 
per hour worked. Total compensation for sales and office workers averaged $30.83 per hour worked and 
service workers averaged $34.02. (See chart 1 and table 4.)

For state and local government employees, employer costs for insurance benefits averaged $5.34 per 
hour, or 12.0 percent of total compensation. The largest component of insurance costs in September 2015 
was health insurance, which averaged $5.20, or 11.6 percent of total compensation. (See chart 2 and table 

In September 2015, the average cost for retirement and savings benefits was $4.63 per hour worked in 
state and local government, or 10.4 percent of total compensation. Included in this amount were 
employer costs for defined benefit plans, which averaged $4.26 per hour (9.5 percent of total 
compensation), and defined contribution plans, which averaged 37 cents (0.8 percent). (See chart 2 and 
table 3.) Defined benefit plans specify a formula for determining future benefits, while defined 
contribution plans specify employer contributions but do not guarantee the amount of future benefits.

Two components of benefit costs are paid leave and legally required benefits. Paid leave benefit costs 
include vacation, holiday, sick leave, and personal leave. The average cost for paid leave was $3.24 per 
hour worked for state and local government employees. Costs for legally required benefits, including 
Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance (both state and federal), and workers’ compensation, 
averaged $2.63 per hour worked. (See table 3.)

The National Compensation Survey also produces data on the percentage of state and local government 
workers with access to and participation in employee benefit plans, including health and retirement and 
savings plans. Detailed data on health and retirement plan provisions are available at

Benefit costs in private industry

Private industry employer costs for paid leave averaged $2.17 per hour worked or 6.9 percent of total 
compensation, supplemental pay averaged $1.04 or 3.3 percent, insurance benefits averaged $2.59 or 
8.2 percent, retirement and savings averaged $1.25 or 4.0 percent, and legally required benefits 
averaged $2.51 per hour worked or 7.9 percent.  (See table A and table 5.) 

Table A.  Relative importance of employer costs for employee compensation, September 2015

Compensation                            Civilian       Private      State and local
  component                             workers        industry       government
Wages and salaries                       68.6%          69.7%            63.7%
Benefits                                 31.4           30.3             36.3
   Paid leave                             7.0            6.9              7.3
   Supplemental pay                       2.8            3.3              0.8
   Insurance                              8.9            8.2             12.0
     Health benefits                      8.5            7.7             11.6
   Retirement and savings                 5.2            4.0             10.4
     Defined benefit                      3.2            1.7              9.5
     Defined contribution                 2.0            2.2              0.8
   Legally required                       7.6            7.9              5.9

The Employer Costs for Employee Compensation for December 2015 is scheduled to be released on 
Thursday, March 10, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. (EST). 

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation data on total compensation, wages and salaries, and 
benefits in private industry are produced annually in the March reference period for 15 metropolitan 
areas. Selected metropolitan area data were included in the March 2015 news release published in June 
2015. For further information about metropolitan area ECEC estimates see: “BLS Introduces New 
Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Data for Private Industry Workers in 15 Metropolitan 
Areas,” at

Supplemental tables with occupational, establishment size, and bargaining status series by industry group 
are available at and

Relative standard errors for all cost estimates in the most recent news release and supplementary tables 
are available at and  

Historical ECEC data are available in three listings, all available at  The first 
historical listing covers data for the March reference periods from 1986 to 2001. These data use the 
Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and Census of Population occupational classification systems.  A 
second listing contains data for the March, June, September, and December reference periods from 
March 2002 to December 2003. These data are also based on the SIC and Census of Population 
occupational classification systems. The most recent listing includes data for March 2004 to the current 
reference period. These are based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and 
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) systems. 

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request— 
Telephone:  (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service:  (800) 877-8339.

BLS news releases, including the ECEC, are available through an e-mail subscription service at:

The PDF version of the news release

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Last Modified Date: December 09, 2015
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