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EMPLOYER COSTS FOR WAGES AND BENEFITS IN THE WEST AVERAGED $17.43 PER HOUR WORKED IN MARCH 1993 -- 4.4 PERCENT ABOVE THE NATION

 SAN FRANCISCO, June 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The cost to private industry employers for employee compensation reached $17.43 in the western states in March 1993. This was 73 cents higher than the national average of $16.70, according to Sam Hirabayashi, regional commissioner of the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of the total $17.43 hourly compensation package in the West, 72 percent, or $12.55, represented straight-time wages and salaries, while the remaining 28 percent -- $4.88 an hour went for benefits.
 When compared to other regions, compensation in the West was 10 percent below the $19.44 an hour average compensation level in the Northeast, but was higher than the $14.81 average in the South and the $15.93 average cost of compensation in the Midwest. Since 1988, total average compensation in the West rose from $14.59 to $17.43 in the West, compared to an increase from $13.79 to $16.70 in the nation during this five-year span.
 In the West, legally required benefits, (e.g., social security, workers' compensation, and unemployment insurance) were the largest cost item among the benefit categories, accounting for $1.66 per hour worked, or 9.5 percent of compensation, and about one-third of the total cost of benefits. Social security and workers' compensation costs, at $1.04 and 47 cents respectively, account for most of the cost of legally required benefits.
 Insurance, including health, life, and sickness and accident insurance, was the second largest cost category, accounting for an average $1.17 per hour worked, or 6.7 percent of total compensation, amounting to nearly one-quarter of total benefits. Health insurance accounted for $1.08, or 92 percent of total insurance cost to employers.
 Paid leave, which had been the second largest cost category in March 1992, was next in terms of cost to employers. Paid leave averaged $1.09 per hour worked in March 1993, 6.3 percent of total compensation. Nearly half of paid leave costs went for vacation pay and about one-third went for holiday pay.
 Employer payments for retirement and savings added 49 cents an hour to employer costs and supplementary pay added another 42 cents. Supplementary pay includes premium pay for overtime and work on weekends and holidays, shift differentials, nonproduction bonuses, and lump-sum payments. The survey also covered severance pay and supplemental unemployment plans but cost for these benefits averaged only five cents per hour worked.
 The survey does not attempt to measure employer costs associated with a number of other benefits including such items as free or subsidized employee parking, employee discounts, employee assistance programs, recreational facilities, wellness programs or fitness centers, subsidized meals, education assistance, child care and a variety of other commonly offered or emerging types of benefit programs.
 Information on compensation cost trends over time are available in the annual Bureau of Labor Statistics report on the Employment Cost Index (ECI) Bulletin 2413. Information on the incidence and detailed provisions of selected employee benefit plans is published in the Employee Benefits Survey (EBS) bulletin for Medium and Large Firms, Bulletin 2422.
 The March 1993 levels of employer costs for employee compensation shown in this release were calculated using March 1993 employment patterns. Therefore, changes in cost levels over time reflect both changing rates of compensation and changes in relative employment among occupations and industries with different rates of compensation.
 A measure of the change in rates of compensation that is not influenced by employment shifts among occupations and industries is provided by the ECI, which is published quarterly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
 -0- 6/29/93
 /CONTACT: Sam Hirabayashi, 415-744-7166, or Leon Bornstein, 415-744-7163, both of the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics/


CO: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics ST: California IN: SU: EXE ECO

TM -- SF006 -- 6714 06/29/93 12:43 EDT
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Date:Jun 29, 1993
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