Employers Spend $26.46 per Hour Worked on Employee Comp in December

March 14, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $26.46 per hour worked in December 2005, the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports.

Wages and salaries, which averaged $18.59, accounted for 70.2% of these costs, while benefits, which averaged $7.87, accounted for the remaining 29.8%, according to BLS data.

Costs for legally required benefits, including Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation, averaged $2.15 per hour or 8.1% of total compensation. Costs for other benefits, according to the release, averaged:

  • $2.13 per hour worked (8.1% of total wages) for life, health, and disability insurance benefits,
  • $1.77 per hour worked (6.7%) for paid leave benefits (vacations, holidays,
  • sick leave, and other leave), and
  • $1.13 per hour worked (4.3%) for retirement and savings benefits.

For private industry, employer compensation costs averaged $24.71 per hour worked.

Wages and salaries averaged $17.51 per hour (70.8%), while benefits averaged $7.20 or 29.2%.

Employer costs for legally required benefits in private industry varied by occupation, industry, bargaining status, region, and establishment size. The average cost per hour worked for legally required benefits ranged from $1.33 per hour worked for service occupations to $3.11 per hour for management, professional, and related occupations.

Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations averaged $3.04, while production, transportation, and material moving occupations averaged $2.16 and sales and office occupations averaged $1.63 per hour. The proportion of total compensation represented by legally required benefits ranged from 7.2% for management, professional, and related workers to 10.9% for service workers and natural resources, construction, and maintenance workers.

Employer costs for legally required benefits were higher for union workers, $2.98 per hour, than for nonunion workers, $2.04 per hour. Additionally, costs for legally required benefits were higher in goods-producing industries ($2.77 per hour) than in service-providing industries ($1.99 per hour).

Among the four regions, employer costs for legally required benefits ranged from $1.88 per hour in the South to $2.46 per hour in the West. Legally required benefit costs were $2.08 in the Midwest and $2.35 in the Northeast.

In establishments with fewer than 100 employees, average hourly costs were $1.95, significantly less than the cost of $2.37 in establishments with 100 employees or more. Conversely, legally required costs decreased as a proportion of total compensation with establishment size. Legally required benefit costs in establishments with fewer than 50 employees averaged 9.6%; and in establishments with 500 workers or more, 7.4% of total compensation.

Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, based on the National Compensation Survey, measures employer costs for wages, salaries, and employee benefits for non-farm private and State and local government workers.