Private-Sector Salary up by 90 cents in March

June 20, 2002 ( - Private-sector wages were up by $0.90 in March 2002 at an average of $21.71 per hour, according to new data from the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Private-sector wage costs amounted to $15.80 per hour in March, 72.8% of total compensation costs, compared to $15.18 an hour or 72.9% in 2001, according to the figures from BLS’s employment cost index data series.

Employers’ average compensation costs were higher for union-represented workers at $29.42 an hour, than for nonunion workers at $20.79 an hour. Among union-represented workers, benefits made up a larger proportion of total costs at 34.3% compared with the 26% the year before.

Benefit costs averaged $5.96 or 27.2% of total compensation costs, compared with $5.63 or 27.1% in March 2001, the BLS said.

Government Workers Considered

When state and local government workers are added to private industry employees, the statistics agency estimated that employer costs for civilian employers stood at $23.15 an hour in March 2002. Wages for civilian workers averaged $16.76 an hour in March 2001, while benefit costs averaged $6.39 an hour.

BLS found that compensation costs varied sharply among industry and occupational group, region, establishment size, and worker characteristics, including bargaining status and full-time or part-time status.

BLS found that private industry employers paid an average of $1.29 an hour in health benefits costs, or 45.9 % of total compensation. These costs varied sharply by region, occupation, bargaining status, and establishment size.

Among the four broad geographic regions for which the agency provides data, health benefit costs ran from $1.14 per hour in the South to $1.48 in the Northeast.

The latest employer cost estimates also are available on the agency’s Web site .