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Bureau of Labor Statistics Report on Employee Benefits

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released a July 2011 report on employee benefits in the United States. Data in the report are from the National Compensation Survey (NCS), conducted by the US Department of Labor, BLS. The report contains March 2011 data on civilian, private industry, and state and local government workers in the United States.

Under the NCS program, information on the incidence and provision of benefits is published in several stages. This report provides data on the incidence of (access to and participation in) selected benefits and the share of premiums paid by employers and employees for medical care. An extensive number of tables on the incidence of selected benefits will be available in the annual bulletin to be published in early fall, 2011. Additional data on detailed provisions of health insurance in state and local government for 2011 will be available in 2012. Previous publications containing information on employee benefits for private industry and state and local government workers are available on the BLS website.

According to the report, paid leave benefits continued to be the most widely available benefit offered by employers, with paid vacations available to 91% of full-time employees (FTEs) in private industry in March 2011. Access to these benefits, however, varied by employee and establishment characteristics. In private industry, paid vacation benefits were available to only 37% of part-time employees (PTEs). Paid sick leave was available to 75% of FTEs and 27% of PTEs. Paid vacations were available to 90% of workers earning wages in the highest 10th percent of private industry employees and only to 38% of workers in the lowest 10 percent of private industry wage earners. Access to paid sick leave benefits ranged from 21% for the lowest wage category to 87% for the highest wage category.

For the first time, the NCS produced data on employer-provided benefits available to unmarried domestic partners. For unmarried domestic partner benefits, about half the workers in state and local government have access to survivor benefits, as compared to 7% of the workers in private industry, reflecting in part the difference in the availability of defined benefit plans between these groups. Thirty-three percent of state and local government workers and 29% of private sector workers have access to health care benefits for unmarried domestic partners of the same sex. Access to benefits varies by employer and employee characteristics and by whether the unmarried domestic partner is of the same or opposite sex.

Additional findings include:

  • Medical care benefits were available to 69% of private industry workers, compared with 87% among state and local government workers. About half of private industry workers participated in a medical plan, compared with about three-quarters of state and local government workers.

  • FTEs in state and local government had a high rate of access to employer-provided benefits. Retirement and medical benefits were offered to 99% and paid sick leave to 98% of FTEs. By comparison, only 73% of FTEs in private industry had access to retirement benefits, 85% to medical care, and 75% to paid sick leave.

  • For single coverage, employers paid 88% of the medical care premiums for FT state and local government workers and 80% of the medical care premiums for FT private industry workers. For family coverage, employers paid 71% of the medical care premiums for FTEs in state and local government and 69% in private industry.

  • Paid sick leave was available to approximately two-thirds of workers. Nearly 9 out of 10 state and local government workers had access, compared with approximately 6 of 10 private industry workers.

More information on the report can be obtained by calling (202) 691-6199, sending e-mail to, or by visiting the BLS website.

If you have questions about the report, please contact your Conner Strong & Buckelew account representative toll free at 1-877-861-3220. For a complete list of Legislative Updates issued by Conner Strong & Buckelew, visit our online Resource Center.

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