September Employee Cost At $23.44 Per Hour

December 16, 2002 ( - Employer costs of employee compensation reached $23.44 per hour worked in September 2002, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The $23.44 per hour worked represents the average wage for all United States private and public workers.   Broken down, wages and salaries composed 72.2% of the average, at $16.93 per hour, with the remaining 27.8% accounted for by benefits costs, at $6.51 per hour.

The largest non-wage employer cost was made up of legally required benefits, which includes Social Security unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation , averaging $1.85 per hour.   Additionally, paid leave benefits average $1.60 per hour, insurance benefits average $1.67 per hour and retirement savings benefits average $0.80 per hour.

Private Industry

Private sector compensation costs average $22.01 per hour worked in September.   Wages and salaries accounted for 72.7% of this, at $16.00 per hour, while benefits make up the remaining 27.3%, at $6.01 per hour.  

On average, per hour worked amounts for benefit components include:

  • $1.84 – legally required benefits
  • $1.45 – paid leave benefits
  • $1.45 – insurance benefits
  • $0.63 – retirement and savings
  • $0.60 – supplemental pay
  • $0.04 – other benefits

State and local governments

Public sector employee average compensation cost was $31.89 per hour worked in September.   Wage and salaries accounted for 70.2% of this, at $22.40 per hour, with benefits making up the remaining 29.8%, at $9.49 per hour.

State and local government employees are further broken down into white-collar, blue-collar and service occupations.   White-collar workers had the highest per hour worked average at $35.43, followed by blue-collar at $25.30 and service occupations at $24.26.   Of these totals, wages and salaries averaged $25.55 per hour of white-collar worker compensation costs, $16.53 of the blue-collar cost and $15.63 of service occupation costs.

Benefits costs averaged $2.96 per hour worked for insurance, $2.49 per hour for paid leave, $1.89 per hour for legally required benefits, $1.81 per hour for retirement and savings, $0.28 per hour for supplemental pay and $0.06 per hour worked for other benefits.