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Real Hourly Workers Comp Costs Published By BLS – Best Stats


Why Are Real Hourly Workers Comp Costs Higher For State/Local Government?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics  (BLS) should always be a “go-to” place for any type of labor statistics.  The chart I am using today for comparison is on this BLS webpage. I wanted to find out the average real hourly workers comp costs.  They had it and the data is only three months old.  That is not bad as most workers comp data is 18 months old in its freshest form.  See this article for why that is true.

You can even request navigators to help find any labor stats that you need for a presentation or article, or to find anything in their massive databases. I had to dig a little for this one. The real hourly workers comp costs line that I took from the huge BLS table (included) below revealed a few surprises.

One Noticeable Figure

The first column n each category is the cost and the second is % of total benefits.  One can see the cost for civilian workers and private industry columns are almost the same.  The state and local government almost seems to be an anomaly.   If one looks at the state and local government workers, the workers comp costs per hour are much more than the civilian and private industry groups.

Hold on, though, the % of total benefits is lower 1- 1.0% – than the civilian and private industry figures. The state and local government benefits are somewhat higher than the other two types of employees.  Still, that looks comparatively very high.

Workers’ compensation 0.47 1.1 0.45 1.1 0.59 1.0

Table 1. Employer Costs for Employee Compensation by Ownership

[Mar. 2023]


Civilian workers(1)Private industry workersState /Local government workers
Compensation component
Cost ($)Percent of compensation
Cost ($)Percent of compensation Cost ($)
Total compensation(2) 43.07 100.0 40.79 100.0 58.08 100.0
Wages and salaries 29.70 69.0 28.76 70.5 35.89 61.8
Total benefits 13.36 31.0 12.02 29.5 22.19 38.2
Paid leave 3.20 7.4 3.04 7.5 4.23 7.3
Vacation 1.56 3.6 1.55 3.8 1.57 2.7
Holiday 0.94 2.2 0.90 2.2 1.22 2.1
Sick 0.50 1.2 0.41 1.0 1.10 1.9
Personal 0.19 0.5 0.17 0.4 0.34 0.6
Supplemental pay 1.39 3.2 1.52 3.7 0.57 1.0
Overtime and premium(3) 0.38 0.9 0.40 1.0 0.25 0.4
Shift differentials 0.07 0.2 0.07 0.2 0.05 0.1
Nonproduction bonuses 0.95 2.2 1.05 2.6 0.27 0.5
Insurance 3.48 8.1 3.01 7.4 6.58 11.3
Life 0.05 0.1 0.05 0.1 0.08 0.1
Health 3.30 7.7 2.83 6.9 6.41 11.0
Short-term disability 0.08 0.2 0.09 0.2 0.03 0.1
Long-term disability 0.05 0.1 0.05 0.1 0.05 0.1
Retirement and savings 2.22 5.2 1.39 3.4 7.69 13.2
Defined benefit 1.32 3.1 0.42 1.0 7.18 12.4
Defined contribution 0.91 2.1 0.97 2.4 0.51 0.9
Legally Required benefits 3.07 7.1 3.06 7.5 3.13 5.4
Social Security and Medicare 2.44 5.7 2.44 6.0 2.47 4.3
Social Security(4) 1.95 4.5 1.96 4.8 1.88 3.2
Medicare 0.49 1.1 0.48 1.2 0.59 1.0
Federal unemployment insurance 0.02 0.1 0.03 0.1 (5) (6)
State unemployment insurance 0.13 0.3 0.14 0.3 0.07 0.1
Workers’ compensation 0.47 1.1 0.45 1.1 0.59 1.0

Footnotes to Table(1) Includes workers in the private nonfarm economy except those in private households, and workers in the public sector, except the federal government.(2) Includes costs for wages and salaries and benefits.(3) Includes premium pay for work (such as overtime, weekends, and holidays) in addition to the regular work schedule.(4) Social Security refers to the Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program.(5) Cost per hour worked is $0.01 or less.(6) Less than .05 percent

BLS logo real hourly workers comp costs
(c) Bureau of Labor Statistics






James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications


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