New England employers are no longer shouldering the country’s highest employee compensation costs, although the region trails by a narrow margin, federal officials say.
New data released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says total compensation costs for private-industry employers averaged $41.13 per hour in March.
That’s up slightly from $40.80 in December, but the six-state region now ranks second in highest total wages behind the $41.27 per hour recorded in the West Coast’s Pacific region last month. New England topped the national compensation list over several recent months.
For the month, wages and salaries in New England accounted for 68.5 percent of total compensation costs, or $28.19 per hour, and total benefits made up 31.5 percent, or $12.94 per hour, BLS said.
Benefits primarily included paid leave ($3.28 per hour) and legally required benefits ($3.04), such as Social Security and Medicare. Retirement and savings cost employers $1.91 per hour, followed by vacation ($1.71) and holiday (0.98 cents) pay.
Nationwide, employer compensation costs averaged $34.49 per hour, while wages and salaries cost them $24.17 per hour. Benefits cost employers $10.33 per hour.
Across nine geographic divisions measured by BLS, the “east south central division,” including Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, recorded the lowest total compensation costs for the month at $27.57 per hour.
Employer compensation costs are expected to rise as more states adopt a $15 hourly minimum wage and paid-family medical leave programs.
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