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July 17, 2002
Vacation: Still the Most Widespread Benefit
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ernment data from the year 2000, the most recent information available, shows the paid vacation remaining the most prevalent benefit available to workers in private industry.

Paid vacations were available to 80 percent of employees, and paid holidays were given to 77 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

The data comes from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), which provides comprehensive measures of occupational earnings, compensation cost trends, and details of benefit provisions.

In 2000, 52 percent of employees in private industry participated in medical care plans. Forty-eight percent were covered by retirement benefits of at least one type, either a defined benefit plan (19 percent) or a defined contribution plan (36 percent), with approximately 7 percent of employees enrolled in both types of plans.

Life insurance was available to over half of all employees in private industry. Short- and long-term disability benefits were less common; they were available to 34 and 26 percent of employees, respectively.

Other benefits frequently offered in private industry include non-production bonuses (offered to 48 percent of employees) and work-related educational assistance (available to 38 percent). Among benefits less often available to employees were severance pay (available to 20 percent of employees), job-related travel accident insurance (15 percent), and long-term care insurance (7 percent).

Of the 52 percent of private sector workers with medical care coverage, premiums were fully paid by the employer for 32 percent of those with single coverage plans and 19 percent of those with family coverage. The majority of medical plan participants were required to contribute a flat monthly amount, averaging $54.40 for single coverage and $179.75 for family coverage.

Access to most benefits, as well as the availability of fully paid medical care and the amount of required contributions to the cost of medical care, varied by worker and establishment characteristics. Tables 1-2 highlight the incidence of coverage for employee benefits by worker and establishment characteristics.

Worker characteristics

Benefits coverage varied by occupational group, full- and part-time status, and union and nonunion status. Of the three occupational groups for which data are presented in this release, professional, technical, and related employees generally had the greatest incidence of coverage.

Retirement benefits covered 66 percent of professional, technical, and related employees, compared with 50 percent of clerical and sales employees and 39 percent of blue-collar and service employees. Work-related educational assistance was available to 62 percent of professional, technical, and related workers, 37 percent of clerical and sales workers, and 28 percent of blue-collar and service workers.

Non-work related educational assistance was much less prevalent, but was also more often provided to professional, technical, and related workers than to the other groups.

Payment of premiums for medical care coverage also varied by employee characteristics. Thirty-eight percent of blue-collar and service workers covered by medical care benefits had their coverage fully paid for by their employers, compared with 25 percent of professional, technical, and related employees and 28 percent of clerical and sales employees.

Full-time employees were much more likely to have benefits coverage than were part-time employees. Fifty-five percent of full-time employees were covered by retirement benefits, compared with 18 percent of part-time employees. The difference in participation in health care benefits was even greater: 61 percent of full-time employees were covered by medical care plans, compared with 13 percent of part-time workers.

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