Health Benefits More than 7% of Compensation Costs

June 11, 2008 ( - Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $28.46 per hour worked in March 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Wages and salaries averaged $19.83 and accounted for 69.7% of compensation costs, while benefits averaged $8.63 and accounted for 30.3% of comp costs, BLS data showed.

Costs for legally required benefits – including Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation – averaged $2.24 per hour (7.9% of total compensation). Employer costs for life, health, and disability insurance benefits averaged $2.40 (8.4%); paid leave benefits (vacations, holidays, sick leave, and other leave) averaged $2.00 (7%); and retirement and savings benefits averaged $1.26 per hour worked (4.4%).

In private industry, employer compensation costs averaged $26.76 per hour worked. Wages and salaries averaged $18.91 per hour (70.6%), while benefits averaged $7.86 (29.4%). The average cost for health benefits was $1.92 per hour worked (7.2% of total compensation) in March 2008. This is up from $1.41, or 6.3% of total compensation, in March 2003.

Among occupational groups, employer costs for health benefits ranged from 90 cents per hour and 6.8% of total compensation for service workers to $2.77 and 5.8% of total compensation for management, professional, and related occupations. Employer costs for health benefits were significantly higher for union workers, averaging $3.95 per hour (10.9%), than for nonunion workers, averaging $1.68 (6.5%).

The complete BLS data is here .