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.
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
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.