Employers Compensation Costs Increase

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their quarterly report today on the status of “Compensation Costs” i.e. how much employers are having to pay employees. Wages and salaries
are considered to make up about 70 percent of compensation costs, while  benefits make up the remaining 30 percent of compensation.

Over the most recent quarter (3 months) on a seasonally adjusted basis wages and salaries for civilian workers increased ½% while benefits increased slightly more at 0.6%. Over the last 12 months compensation costs for civilian workers increased 2.4 percent.

According to the BLS’ definition Civilian Workers includes both private industry workers and state and local government workers.

Private Industry Workers

As of the end of June 2017, compensation costs for private industry workers increased 2.4 percent over the year this was the same increase as the 12 months ending in June 2016. However, the breakdown was slightly different this year. Wages and salaries increased 2.4 percent for the current 12-month period while it was 2.6% last year. The cost of benefits rose 2.2% this year and 1.7% last year.

State and Local Government Workers

Compensation costs for state and local government workers increased 2.6 percent for the 12-month period ending in June 2017. In June 2016, the increase was 2.3 percent. Wages and salaries increased 2.1% this year and 1.7% for the year ending in June 2016. Benefit costs increased 3.2% for the year ending in June 2017 and 3.4% in 2016.


3 Month



12 Month

Not Seasonally


Compensation[2] 0.8% 0.8% 2.3% 2.3% 2.2% 2.4% 2.4%
Wages and salaries 0.8% 0.8% 2.5% 2.4% 2.3% 2.5% 2.3%
Benefits 0.7% 0.7% 2.0% 2.3% 2.1% 2.2% 2.5%
Compensation[2] 0.8% 0.8% 2.4% 2.3% 2.2% 2.3% 2.4%
Wages and salaries 0.9% 0.9% 2.6% 2.4% 2.3% 2.6% 2.4%
Benefits 0.6% 0.6% 1.7% 1.8% 1.8% 1.9% 2.2%
Compensation[2] 0.6% 0.6% 2.3% 2.6% 2.4% 2.6% 2.6%
Wages and salaries 0.6% 0.6% 1.7% 2.0% 2.1% 2.2% 2.1%
Benefits 0.8% 0.8% 3.4% 3.7% 3.1% 3.1% 3.2%

Note that State and Local Government benefits increased roughly twice as much as private industry.

[1] Includes private industry and state and local government.
[2] Includes wages and salaries and benefits.

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