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May 28, 2002
In CA, Falling Workers' Comp Trend Ends
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ifornia workers' compensation benefits rose 13.9 percent in 2000, ending several years of declines relative to wages, according to a new study from a non-partisan think tank.

The think tank, the Washington-based National Academy of Social Insurance, reports that total wages paid rose 13.5 percent in 2000. It also found that the number of workers covered by the state program rose 3.4 percent.

That translates to workers' compensation benefits for every $100 in wages holding steady at $1.49 in California.

The Los Angeles Times reports that nationally, benefits rose to $46.1 billion, up from $43.1 billion the year before. That includes cash payments and health-care coverage.

For every $100 in wages, the national average benefit dipped slightly from $1.04 to $1.03. That marked the eighth decline in the national average in as many years, from a peak of $1.68 in 1992.

The Times reports that the study's authors attributed the downward trend in relative benefits to strong wage growth, a decline in reported accidents and the imposition by many states of managed health care and other reforms in workers' compensation systems in the early and mid-1990s. But they suspect that increases in workers' comp benefits may soon outpace total wages.

"In the past couple of years, we have seen a reduction nationally in cash benefits, but the medical benefits are starting to pick up," said John F. Burton, a labor studies professor at Rutgers University and chairman of the National Academy of Social Insurance panel that compiled the report.

To read the Los Angeles Times article, click here.

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