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August 25, 2009
25% of Lowest-Wage Workers Have Access to Employer Health Benefits

Only 25 percent of workers with the lowest hourly wages had access to employer-provided health benefits in March 2009, according to a report by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. By contrast, nearly all workers with the highest hourly wages had access to healthcare benefits.

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Overall, 71 percent of workers in private industry had access to healthcare benefits from their employer. Among full-time workers in private industry, 86 percent had access to healthcare benefits. The bureau defined a worker with access to healthcare benefits as one having an employer-provided medical plan available for use, regardless of the worker's decision to enroll or participate in the plan.

The bureau found that in private industry, employers paid 80 percent of the cost of premiums for single coverage and 70 percent of the cost for family coverage, for workers participating in employer sponsored health plans.

The bureau also found that paid sick leave was available to 73 percent of full-time workers in private industry in March 2009. Ninety-one percent of full-time workers in private industry workers had access to paid vacation. And 89 percent of full-time workers in private industry had access to paid holidays.

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