Retirement and Savings Benefits 4% of Employer Comp Costs

September 10, 2009 ( - Employers spent an average of $1.29 for employee retirement and savings plans for every hour worked in June 2009, accounting for 4.4% of total compensation, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

In June, average costs in private industry for retirement and savings benefits were 95 cents per hour worked, or 3.4% of total compensation. The average cost per hour worked for defined benefit plans was 41 cents (1.5% of total compensation), while the average cost for defined contribution plans was 53 cents (1.9% of total compensation).

According to BLS data, retirement and savings costs were higher, both in amount and as a proportion of total compensation, for union workers ($2.44 and 6.6% of total compensation) than for nonunion workers (77 cents and 2.9% of total compensation). Defined benefit plan costs were significantly higher for union workers ($1.75 and 4.7% of compensation) than for nonunion workers (25 cents and 1% of compensation).

For state and local government workers, employers spent 8% of total compensation costs on retirement benefits, with 7.2% of the costs attributed to DB plans and 0.8% attributed to DC plan costs.

Among occupational groups, retirement and savings costs ranged from 21 cents per hour worked for service occupations to $1.89 for management, professional, and related occupations. Sales and office occupations averaged 60 cents; production, transportation, and material moving occupations, 84 cents; and natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations, $1.50 per hour. The proportion of total compensation represented by retirement and savings ranged from 1.6% for service workers to 4.8% for natural resources, construction, and maintenance workers.

Retirement and savings costs were higher per hour worked in goods-producing industries ($1.46 and 4.5% of total compensation) than in service-providing industries (83 cents and 3.2% of total compensation).

Among the four census regions, retirement and savings costs ranged from 77 cents per hour in the South to $1.18 in the Northeast. Retirement and savings costs were 1.02 cents in the West and 94 cents in the Midwest.

Retirement and savings costs increased, both in cost per hour worked and proportion of total compensation, with establishment size, BLS said. Establishments with fewer than 50 workers averaged 49 cents (2.2%), compared to establishments with 500 workers or more, averaging $1.92 (4.9%).

Total compensation for civilian workers averaged $29.31 per hour worked in June 2009, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wages and salaries, which averaged $20.42, accounted for 69.7% of these costs, while benefits, which averaged $8.89, accounted for the remaining 30.3%.

Life, health, and disability insurance benefits averaged $2.50 (8.5% of total compensation); legally required benefits, including Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation, averaged $2.28 per hour (7.8%); paid leave benefits (vacations, holidays, sick leave, and personal leave) averaged $2.07 (7.1%); and supplemental pay averaged 76 cents (2.6%), according to a BLS news release.

In June 2009, private industry employer compensation costs averaged $27.42 per hour worked. Wages and salaries averaged $19.39 per hour (70.7%), while benefits averaged $8.02 (29.3%). Employer costs for paid leave averaged $1.85 per hour worked (6.8%); supplemental pay averaged 83 cents (3%); insurance benefits averaged $2.13 (7.8%); retirement and savings averaged 95 cents (3.4%); and legally required benefits averaged $2.26 (8.3%) per hour worked.

The BLS data is here .