Employee benefit costs for private industry— including those involving paid leave, retirement, and insurance benefits—rose 5.6 percent in 2000, according to figures just released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
That represents a significant rise over the 3.4 percent increase reported for 1999, perhaps adding fuel to the building argument for more corporate scrutiny of benefit costs and more employee cost-sharing.
In the final three months of 2000, however, benefit costs increases for all civilian workers—including both those in the public and private sectors—slowed to 0.8 percent. Analysts say the softening economy and job market are responsible for the cooling-off, according to benefitnews.com, which reported on the release of the figures.
In contrast, benefit-cost increases for all civilian workers were 2 percent, 1.1 percent, and 1 percent during the first three quarters of 2000. BLS also reported that wages and salaries for private industry increased 3.9 percent last year, up from the 3.5 increase recorded in 1999.
Overall, the Employment Cost Index (ECI) stood at 150.6 in December, representing a rise of 4.1 percent in 2000. (ECI measures changes in compensation costs, including wages, salaries, and benefit costs.)Click here for the full BLS report.