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January 03, 2002
Benefit Statistics for 1999 Released
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d time off was the most prevalent benefit available to workers in private establishments in 1999, with paid vacations offered to 79 percent of employees and paid holidays to 75 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

The new National Compensation Survey (NCS) provides more detailed data on benefits by selected worker and establishment characteristics than previously available.

The next release on benefits, scheduled for the spring of 2002, will contain 2000 data with details of benefit plan provisions, as well as incidence information, according to the BLS.

Fifty-three percent of employees in private industry participated in medical care plans in 1999, and 48 percent were covered by retirement benefits of at least one type, either a defined benefit plan (21 percent) or a defined contribution plan (36 percent). (Approximately 9 percent of employees were enrolled in both types of plans.)

Paid sick leave and life insurance were available to over half of all employees in private industry. Short- and long-term disability insurance benefits were less common: they were available to 36 and 25 percent of employees, respectively. Other benefits frequently offered in private industry include non-production bonuses (offered to 42 percent of employees) and work-related educational assistance (available to 41 percent).

Employee assistance programs and Section 125 cafeteria plans were not uncommon; both were available to around one-third of employees. (See technical note for definition of Section 125 plans.) Severance pay and job-related travel accident insurance were available to about one-fifth of employees. Fully paid medical care coverage was provided to 33 percent of participants in single coverage plans and 19 percent in family coverage plans. The majority of medical plan participants were required to contribute a flat monthly amount, averaging $48.30 for single and $169.84 for family coverage.

Access to most benefits, availability of fully paid medical care, and the amount of required contributions to the cost of medical care varied by worker and establishment characteristics, as well as by region.

Professional, technical, and related employees had the greatest incidence of coverage for all of the major benefits. The difference was especially significant in the coverage for paid sick leave benefits: 81 percent of professional, technical, and related employees were covered, compared with 59 percent of clerical and sales employees and only 38 percent of blue-collar workers.

Retirement benefits were offered to about 7 out of 10 professional, technical, and related employees, compared with fewer than half of clerical and sales and blue-collar and service employees (45 and 42 percent, respectively).

Payment of premiums for medical care coverage also varied by employee characteristics. Blue-collar and service workers with medical care benefits had their health care coverage fully paid for by their employers more often than workers in the other two groups: 37 percent of blue-collar workers with medical care benefits had fully paid single coverage, compared with 31 percent of professional, technical, and related employees and 29 percent of clerical and sales employees.

Fully paid single medical coverage also was more prevalent among union employees, 52 percent with medical care benefits had fully paid single coverage, compared with 30 percent of non-union employees. Blue-collar and service employees, however, had the highest average flat monthly contributions to medical care plans; these contributions averaged $50.67, compared with $47.70 for clerical and sales employees and $45.34 for professional, technical, and related employees.

Average contributions for single coverage among union and non-union employees were almost the same. For family coverage, the average required contribution for union employees was about $45 per month less than for their non-union counterparts. (See table 6.) Full-time employees were much more likely to have benefits coverage than were part-time employees.

Fifty-six percent of full-time employees were covered by retirement benefits, compared with 21 percent of part-time workers. The difference in participation in health care benefits was even greater: 64 percent of full-time employees were covered by medical care plans, compared with only 14 percent of part-time workers.

Availability of fully paid medical benefits also was greater among full- time workers; 34 percent of those with medical benefits were not required to contribute for single coverage, compared with 22 percent of part-time workers. Where average flat monthly contributions were required, part-time workers' contributions for single coverage were about $10 higher per month than those of full-time workers; for family coverage, part-time workers had to pay, on average, nearly $24 more per month.

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