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EMPLOYER COSTS FOR WAGES AND BENEFITS IN THE WEST WAS $16.26 PER HOUR WORKED IN MARCH 1992 -- 0.7 PERCENT ABOVE THE NATION

EMPLOYER COSTS FOR WAGES AND BENEFITS IN THE WEST WAS $16.26 PER HOUR
 WORKED IN MARCH 1992 -- 0.7 PERCENT ABOVE THE NATION
 SAN FRANCISCO, July 8 /PRNewswire/ -- The cost to private industry employers for employee compensation reached $16.26 in the Western States in March 1992. This was 12 cents higher than the national average of $16.14, according to Sam Hirabayashi, Regional Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. He said that in March 1991, total compensation in the West was $15.97 an hour, or 3.7 percent higher than the national average. Of the total $16.26 hourly compensation package in the West, 72.7 percent, or $11.82, represented straight-time salaries and wages, while the remaining 27.3 percent--$4.45 an hour--went for benefits.
 When compared to other regions, compensation in the West was 16 percent below the $18.84 an hour average compensation in the Northeast, but was higher than the $14.52 an hour average in the South and the $15.47 cost of compensation in the Midwest. In the four years ending March 1992, total compensation in the West rose 11.4 percent, well below the 21.5 percent advance in the Northeast, and also less than the 18.7 percent gain in the South and the
12.8 percent increase in the Midwest during this period. The cost of wages and salaries alone rose 10.6 percent in the West during this four-year span. This compares to increases of 19.8 percent in the Northeast, 16.9 percent in the South, and 12.1 percent in the Midwest.
 In the West, legally required benefits (e.g., social security, workers' compensation, and unemployment insurance) were still the largest cost item among the benefit categories, accounting for $1.53 an hour, or 9.4 percent of compensation and about one-third of the total cost of benefits. Social security costs, at an average 97 cents an hour, and workers' compensation at 43 cents an hour accounted for most of the legally required costs.
 Paid leave, at $1.05 an hour, remained the second largest cost category, accounting for 6.4 percent of total compensation, and nearly one-quarter of the total cost of benefits. Nearly half of paid leave costs went for vacation pay and about one-third went for holiday pay.
 Insurance, including health, life, and sickness and accident insurance, was next in terms of cost to employers. Insurance cost in the West averaged $1.04 an hour or 6.4 percent of total benefits.
 Payments for retirement and savings added 44 cents an hour to employers' costs and supplementary pay added another 38 cents. Supplementary pay includes premium pay for overtime and work on weekends and holidays, shift differentials, nonproduction bonuses, and lump-sum payments provided in lieu of wage increases. The survey also covered severance pay and supplemental unemployment plans but cost for these benefits were under one cent an hour.
 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). 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, 1989, Small Private Establishments, 1990, and State and Local Government, 1990.
 The March 1992 levels of employer costs for employee compensation shown in this release were calculated using March 1992 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.
 NOTE: This release on employer costs presents data by type of insurance provided to their employees--health, life, and sickness and accident. Previously, data were available only for all insurance items combined. See "Employee compensation reports to include detail by type of insurance," Monthly Labor Review, May 1992 for more information.
 -0- 7/8/92
 /CONTACT: Leon Bornstein of U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, 415-744-7163/ CO: U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics ST: California IN: FIN SU: ECO


JL -- SF003 -- 7351 07/08/92 10:38 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 8, 1992
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