How frequently do private businesses pay their workers?

June 05, 2014

The most common length of pay period among U.S. private businesses is 2 weeks, with 36.5 percent paying their employees on a biweekly basis. Weekly pay periods are nearly as common, with 32.4 percent of private businesses paying employees each week. Semimonthly and monthly pay frequencies are less common.

Percentage of private businesses operating under weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, and monthly pay periods, March 2013
Length of pay periodPercent









Among the various pay period lengths, semimonthly is the one in which businesses pay the highest average hourly earnings ($29.75), followed closely by monthly ($28.45). Businesses operating on a biweekly pay schedule pay their employees an average of $24.81 per hour; businesses operating on a weekly pay schedule pay their employees an average of $18.62 per hour. Among all businesses, regardless of the length of pay period used, the average is $23.84 per hour.

Average hourly earnings paid by private businesses, by length of pay period, March 2013
Length of pay periodDollars









Certain industries tend to use specific lengths of pay period—in the construction industry, for example, 70.6 percent of businesses use a weekly pay period. Also, the larger the business (in terms of the number of employees), the more likely that it operates on a biweekly pay schedule: 72.9 percent of private businesses with 1,000 or more employees pay their employees every 2 weeks.

These data are for March 2013 and are from the Current Employment Statistics program. To learn more, see “How frequently do private businesses pay workers?” (HTML) (PDF), by Matt Burgess, Beyond the Numbers, May 2014.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, How frequently do private businesses pay their workers? on the Internet at (visited September 29, 2016).


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