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March 20, 2003
Government Releases Figures on Costs for Compensation
In December 2002, employer costs for employee compensation for civilian workers in private industry and state and local government in the United States averaged $23.66 per hour worked, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

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Wages and salaries, which averaged $17.06, accounted for 72.1 percent of these costs, while benefits, which averaged $6.60, accounted for the remaining 27.9 percent.

Legally required benefits -- Social Security, federal and state unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation -- averaged $1.86 per hour (7.9 percent of total compensation), representing the largest non-wage employer cost. Employer costs for insurance benefits averaged $1.69 (7.1 percent), paid leave benefits averaged $1.62 (6.8 percent), and retirement and savings benefits averaged 82 cents (3.5 percent) per hour worked.

In December 2002, private industry employer compensation costs averaged $22.14 per hour worked. Wages and salaries averaged $16.08 per hour (72.6 percent), while benefits averaged $6.07 (27.4 percent.). Employer costs for paid leave averaged $1.47 per hour worked (6.6 percent), supplemental pay averaged 61 cents (2.8 percent), insurance benefits averaged $1.46 (6.6 percent), retirement and savings averaged 64 cents (2.9 percent), and legally required benefits averaged $1.85 (8.4 percent) per hour worked.

The average cost for legally required benefits was $1.85 per hour worked in private industry (8.4 percent of total compensation) in December 2002. Employer costs for legally required benefits varied by industry, occupation, bargaining status, region, and establishment size. Costs for legally required benefits were higher in goods-producing industries ($2.33 per hour or 9.0 percent of total compensation) than in service-producing industries ($1.72 or 8.1 percent of total compensation).

Paid leave costs in goods-producing industries were $1.70 per hour (6.6 percent of total compensation), compared with $1.41 (6.7 percent of total compensation) for service-producing industries in December 2002. 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.

Among major occupational groups, employer costs for paid leave benefits were highest for white-collar occupations, $2.00 per hour or 7.5 percent of total compensation. Costs were lowest among service occupations, 47 cents or 4.2 percent of total compensation. In blue-collar occupations, employer costs for paid leave averaged $1.16 or 5.6 percent of compensation. Employer costs for paid leave benefits were significantly higher for union workers, averaging $2.16 per hour (7.1 percent), than for nonunion workers, averaging $1.39 (6.6 percent).


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