Private industry employers spent, on average, $29.63 per hour worked for total employee compensation in December 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. Wages and salaries averaged $20.76 per hour worked and accounted for 70.1% of that cost, while benefits averaged $8.87 and accounted for the remaining 29.9%.

Private industry employers paid, on average, $2.45 per hour worked for insurance benefits, including life, health and disability insurance, accounting for 8.3% of total compensation. In addition to insurance, the other benefit categories were supplemental pay(overtime and premium, shift differentials and nonproduction bonuses), which averaged 85 cents per hour worked (2.9%) and retirement savings, which averaged $1.10 per hour (3.7%).

The Bureau’s Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC), a product of the National Compensation Survey, measures employer costs for wages, salaries and employee benefits for nonfarm private and state and local government workers. ECEC news releases are published quarterly.

The average cost for legally required benefits, such as Social Security and Medicare, came to $2.43 per hour worked in the private industry, or 8.2% of total compensation in December 2013.  Social Security comprises the largest legally required benefit cost component at $1.39 per hour, or 4.7% of total compensation, the Bureau said. Legally required benefits such as Social Security and Medicare are often directly linked to wages; therefore, higher paid occupations or industries will typically show higher cost estimates for this compensation component, the Bureau added.

Costs for other legally required benefitsinclude workers’ compensation, which averaged 43 cents per hour worked (1.4% of total compensation); state unemployment insurance, which averaged 23 cents per hour worked (0.8%); and federal unemployment insurance, which averaged just 4 cents.

Private industryemployer costs for paid leave benefits averaged $2.05 per hour worked. Private

industry paid leave benefit costs were highest for management, professional and related occupations.

ECEC data on total compensation, wages and salaries, and benefits in private industry are produced annually for 15 metropolitan areas. Metropolitan area data will be included in a news release set to be issued June 11.

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