Government Workers Have Greater Access to Benefits

August 11, 2008 ( - New government data shows that two-thirds of private industry and government workers had access to retirement benefits in March 2008.

A news release from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said nearly three-quarters of civilian workers also had access to medical care in March.

According to the release, access to and participation in retirement and medical care benefits were greater in government employment than in private industry.

Major BLS findings include:

  • Sixty-one percent of private industry employees had access to paid retirement benefits, compared with 89% of state and local government employees. Eighty-six percent of government employees participated in a retirement plan, significantly greater than the approximately half of private industry workers.
  • Medical care benefits were available to 71% of private industry workers, compared to 87% among government workers. About half of private industry workers participated in a plan, less than the nearly three-quarters of government workers who did so.
  • Virtually all full-time employees in state and local government had access to retirement and medical benefits: 99% and 98%, respectively. In private industry, only 71% of full-time workers had access to retirement benefits and 85% to medical care.
  • Employers paid 83% of the cost of premiums for single coverage and 71% of the cost for family coverage for workers participating in employer-sponsored medical plans. Employer share for single coverage was greater in state and local government (90%) than in private industry (81%). For family coverage, the employer share of premiums was similar for private industry and government, 71% and 73%, respectively.
  • Service occupations in private industry had significantly lower rates of access to major benefits than workers in management, professional, and related occupations, where the differences between these two groups in state and local government were not as large.
  • Access to paid holidays and paid vacations was greater in private industry, due in part to the fact that many teachers and other employees in educational services who are employed on the basis of nine-month contracts do not receive formal paid holidays or vacation benefits.

The data is from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), which provides measures of occupational earnings, compensation cost trends, and incidence and provisions of employee benefit plans.

More information is available here .