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Economic News Release
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Employee Benefits in the United States Technical Note

                                        TECHNICAL NOTE

Estimates in this release are from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), conducted by the U.S. Department of
Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The NCS provides comprehensive measures of compensation cost levels and
trends and also provides benefits incidence estimates on the percentage of workers with access to and
participating in employer-provided benefit plans.

The Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2020 bulletin includes additional details on the coverage, 
costs, and provisions of employer-sponsored benefits, and will be published shortly after this news release. See for the latest benefits publications. The bulletin includes the following tables:

-	Table 1: Establishments offering retirement and healthcare benefits (private industry only)
-	Tables 2  8: Retirement benefits
-	Tables 9  15, 41: Healthcare benefits
-	Tables 16  30: Insurance benefits
-	Tables 31  38: Leave benefits
-	Table 39: Quality of life benefits
-	Tables 40, 42: Financial benefits
-	Table 43: Unmarried domestic partner benefits
-	Tables 44, 45: Benefit combinations

Standard errors: Measures of reliability are available for published estimates, which provide users a measure of
the precision of an estimate to ensure that it is within an acceptable range for their intended purpose. For 
further information see

Comparing private and public sector data: Incidence of employee benefits in state and local government should not
be directly compared to private industry. Differences between these sectors stem from factors such as variation in
work activities and occupational structures. Manufacturing and sales, for example, make up a large part of private
industry work activities but are rare in state and local government. Administrative support and professional 
occupations (including teachers) account for two-thirds of the state and local government workforce, compared with
one-half of private industry.

Leave benefits for teachers: Primary, secondary, and special education teachers typically have a work schedule of
37 or 38 weeks per year. Because of this work schedule, they are generally not offered vacations or holidays. In
many cases, the time off during winter and spring breaks during the school year are not considered vacation days
for the purposes of this survey.

Medical plan premiums: The estimates for medical plan premiums are not based on actual decisions regarding medical
coverage made by employees; instead they are based on the assumption that all employees in the occupation can opt
for single or family coverage. Monthly premiums are collected when possible. Annual premiums are converted to
monthly premiums by dividing by 12 months. The share of premiums paid by employers and employees include workers
with and without a contribution requirements.

Sample rotation: One-third of the private industry sample is rotated each year except in years when the government
sample is replaced. The government sample is replaced less frequently than the private industry sample. The state
and local government sample was replaced in its entirety for the March 2017 reference period.

Sample size:
Appendix table 1. Survey establishment response, March 2020
Establishments Civilian Private industry State and local governments

Total in sampling frame(1)

6,678,401 6,446,859 231,542

Total in sample

11,402 9,806 1,596


7,725 6,289 1,436


2,878 2,738 140

Out of business or not in survey scope

799 779 20

(1) The sampling frame was developed from state unemployment insurance reports and based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). For information on establishments and sampling, see the Handbook of Methods: National Compensation Measures available at
(2) Establishments that provided data at the initial interview.
(3) Establishments that did not provide data at the initial interview. For information on nonresponse adjustment and imputation, see the Handbook of Methods: National Compensation Measures available at

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey.

Survey scope:
Appendix table 2. Number of workers represented,(1) March 2020
Occupational group(2) Civilian workers Private industry workers State and local government workers

All workers

139,597,279 120,164,320 19,432,958

Management, professional, and related

43,698,820 32,589,922 11,108,898

Management, business, and financial

13,450,076 11,848,584 -

Professional and related

30,248,744 20,741,338 9,507,405


6,559,268 - 5,149,945

Primary, secondary, and special education school teachers

4,559,981 - 3,960,357

Registered nurses

2,630,810 - -


31,625,246 27,615,415 4,009,830

Protective service

3,280,493 1,350,520 1,929,973

Sales and office

33,109,781 30,388,684 2,721,097

Sales and related

12,352,485 12,272,149 -

Office and administrative support

20,757,296 18,116,535 2,640,761

Natural resources, construction, and maintenance

11,403,419 10,590,216 813,203

Construction, extraction, farming, fishing, and forestry

5,901,050 5,455,992 -

Installation, maintenance, and repair

5,502,370 5,134,224 -

Production, transportation, and material moving

19,760,013 18,980,083 779,930


9,423,481 9,300,595 -

Transportation and material moving

10,336,532 9,679,488 -

(1) The numbers of workers represented by the survey are rounded to the nearest 100. For information on weighting, see the Handbook of Methods: National Compensation Measures available at
(2) The Standard Occupational Classification system was used to classify workers.

Note: Because of rounding, sums of individual items may not equal totals. Dashes indicate that no estimates for this characteristic are provided in this publication.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey.

Average hourly wage percentiles: Estimates by worker average wage are grouped into six wage categories- the lowest
10 percent, the lowest 25 percent, the second 25 percent, the third 25 percent, the highest 25 percent, and the
highest 10 percent. The categories use percentile values based on unpublished March 2020 wages and salaries from
the BLS Employer Costs for Employee Compensation publication.

The percentiles are computed using hourly wages and salaries along with scheduled hours of work reported for 
individual workers in sampled establishments. Establishments in the survey are asked to report only individual 
worker wages and salaries for each sampled job. For the calculation of the percentile values, the individual
worker hourly wages and salaries are weighted and arrayed from lowest to highest. The values corresponding to the
percentiles are:

Ownership Average hourly wage percentiles
10 25 50 75 90


$11.17 $14.45 $20.20 $32.74 $50.17

Private industry

$11.00 $14.00 $19.26 $31.00 $49.04

State and local government

$14.39 $19.08 $28.43 $40.69 $55.44
The lowest 10- and 25-percent wage categories include those occupations with an average hourly rate less than the
10th percentile value and 25th percentile value, respectively. The second 25-percent category includes those 
occupations with rates at or above the 25th percentile value but less than the 50th percentile value. The third
25-percent category includes those occupations with rates at or above the 50th percentile value but less than the
75th percentile value. Finally, the highest 25- and 10-percent wage categories include those occupations with an
average hourly wage greater than or equal to the 75th percentile value and 90th percentile value, respectively.

Individual workers can fall into a wage category different from the average for the occupation into which they are
classified because average hourly wages for the occupation are used to produce the benefit estimates.

Obtaining information: For articles on employee benefits, see the Monthly Labor Review benefits section at and Beyond the Numbers: Pay and Benefits at The Economics Daily article archive is available at For technical information, see "National Compensation 
Measures," in the BLS Handbook of Methods at

Benefit publications from 1980 to the present are also available at The 
latest glossary of benefit terms is available at In addition,
the public databases may also be used to obtain data from 1985 to 2006 and 2010 to the present, see

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request.
Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

Table of Contents

Last Modified Date: September 24, 2020