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This report includes a summary of key changes, including the salary level test and salary basis test.

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March 16, 2005
Statistics for Compensation Costs for End of 2004 Released
Employer costs for compensation averaged $23.90 per hour worked in December 2004 in the private sector, with benefits accounting for nearly 29 percent of those costs, according to the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Wages and salaries averaged $17.02 per hour (71.2 percent), while benefits averaged $6.88 (28.8 percent). Employer costs for paid leave averaged $1.53 per hour worked (6.4 percent), supplemental pay averaged 66 cents (2.7 percent), insurance benefits averaged $1.70 (7.1 percent), retirement and savings averaged 88 cents (3.7 percent), and legally required benefits $2.08 (8.7 percent) per hour worked.
Legally required benefit costs in private industry

The average cost for legally required benefits was $2.08 per hour worked in private industry (8.7 percent of total compensation) in December 2004. Included in this amount were employer costs for Social Security and Medicare, federal and state unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation.

Among the four regions, employer costs for legally required benefits ranged from $1.81 in the South to $2.42 in the West. Legally required benefit costs were $2.01 in the Midwest and $2.26 in the Northeast. Within the nine census divisions, costs for legally required benefits ranged from $1.76 in the East South Central and $1.77 in the West South Central divisions, respectively, to $2.62 in the Pacific division. (See table 7.)

Employer costs for paid leave benefits were highest for management, professional, and related occupations, $3.29 per hour, or 7.9 percent of total compensation. Costs were lowest among service occupations, 49 cents or 4.1 percent of total compensation. Included in this amount were employer costs for vacations, holidays, sick leave, and other leave, such as personal leave, jury duty leave, military leave, and funeral leave.

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