Benefits share of compensation costs changed little from 1986 to 1998

January 22, 1999

In March 1998, employer costs for employee compensation averaged $18.50 per hour for private industry workers. The compensation package broke down to $13.47 per hour for wages and $5.02 per hour for benefits. The proportion of compensation spent on benefits was about 27 percent—a share that has changed little over the past 12 years.

Percent distribution of components of benefits costs, 1986-98
[Chart data—TXT]

From 1986 to 1998, the proportion of compensation accounted for by benefits costs has held within the narrow range of 27 to 29 percent. The higher figure was reported in 1993 and 1994, when increases in the cost of health insurance and legally-required benefits, notably workers compensation, pushed the benefits share higher.

Legally-required benefits, including Social Security, were the largest component of benefit costs at about 9 percent. Other benefits with high relative cost shares were paid leave and insurance (mostly health care), each at roughly 6 percent in 1998.

These data are a product of the BLS Employment Cost Trends program. Additional information is available from the bulletin, Employer Costs for Employee Compensation, 1986-98 (PDF 1,092K).


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Benefits share of compensation costs changed little from 1986 to 1998 on the Internet at (visited September 25, 2016).


Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics

  • A look at healthcare spending, employment, pay, benefits, and prices
    As one of the largest U.S. industries, healthcare is steadily growing to meet the needs of an increasing population with an increasing life expectancy. This Spotlight looks at how much people spend on healthcare, current and projected employment in the industry, employer-provided healthcare benefits, healthcare prices, and pay for workers in healthcare occupations.

  • Employment and Wages in Healthcare Occupations
    Healthcare occupations are a significant percentage of U.S. employment. Some of the largest and highest paying occupations are in healthcare. This Spotlight examines employment and wages for healthcare occupations.

  • Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
    Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.