Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

How do I calculate the percent change between two time periods?

The formula is: [(x/y - 1) * 100] where x = ending quarter's index value and y = beginning quarter's index value. For an example, see calculation.

Once I have identified the series I want to use, how should I reference it to make sure it will not be confused with another series?

To insure the uniqueness of a series, you must include the following: the Employment Cost Index, Component, Ownership, Group, Seasonality, Base as published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. To view the options available for the italicized words, see series options.

Where can I get wage determinations data?

Cross-industry wage determinations under the Service Contract Act and construction industry wage determinations under the Davis-Bacon Act are available from: Employment Standards Administration (ESA),
U.S. Department of Labor
Service Contract Act Wage Determinations: 202-693-0073
Davis Bacon Act Wage Determinations: 202-693-0064

Where can I obtain information on minimum wage and overtime laws and regulations?

Legal questions concerning wage and hour requirements may be addressed to: Employment Standards Administration (ESA), U.S. Department of Labor
Phone: 202-693-0051.  For statistics about minimum wage contact BLS at 202-691-6378.

Where can I find Employment Cost Index (wages & salaries and benefits) historical data?

Go to Compensation Cost Trends. Here you have two options: 1) Select "ECT Databases" and select one of the data retrieval methods: or 2) Select "ECT Tables" and choose of the historical listings. 

How often are the ECI and ECEC published?

The ECI and ECEC are published on a quarterly basis, with reference periods for the pay period including the 12th day of the survey months of March, June, September, and December. The ECI is published in the month following the reference period. The ECEC is published approximately 2 1/2 months after the month of reference.

Does BLS interpret or forecast data on ECI and ECEC?

BLS does not interpret or forecast ECI and ECEC data. However, explanatory notes are provided with every news release and bulletin to make reading and understanding the data easier.

Is there a survey that shows wages and salaries and benefits as a part of compensation?

The Employer Cost for Employee Compensation (ECEC) measures the average cost per hour worked that employers pay for wages and salaries, plus the cost for benefits. Total compensation consists of wages and salaries plus benefits. These data are available online at Employment Cost Trends. Click on links in the Economic News Release section of the CCT homepage for these current data. 

Do you have breakdowns of the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation by state?

We do not have ECEC data by State. We have data by the four census regions and by the nine census divisions.  These data are available from the Compensation Cost Trends page.  Select "economic news releases" and then choose ECEC.  

Does the Employment Cost Index include stock options?

The ECI does not include stock options. We have conducted tests in order to determine the prevalence of stock options across the economy and currently collect stock options access as an emerging benefit.

Calculation (question #1)

A. Determine the index numbers for the beginning quarter and the ending quarter, B. Divide the ending quarter by the beginning quarter. C. Subtract 1 from the quotient derived in step B. D. Multiply the value from step C by 100. E. Round the value from step D to 1 decimal place.

Example: Calculate the percent change in wages and salaries for private industry workers from June 2003 to June 2007.

             A.  June 2003 = 94.0 and June 2007 = 105.1

             B.  105.1/94.0 = 1.1181

             C.  1.1181 - 1 =  0.1181

             D.  .1181 * 100 = 11.81

             E.  11.81 rounded = 11.8%

Series Options (question #2)

First, determine the following parts of each series:

Component: Compensation, Wages and salaries, or Benefits Ownership: Civilian, State and local government, or Private industry Group: See Group List (this identifies the industry, occupation, census region or division, bargaining status, or metropolitan area status)
Seasonality: Seasonally adjusted, or not seasonally adjusted
Base: Currently, this is December 2005 = 100.

Second, cite the data as "the Employment Cost Index (ECI), Component, Ownership, Group, Seasonality, Base as published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics."

Do not cite table numbers or specific publications as official sources because these may change over time. However, you may want to note that the data appeared in table X in a particular issue of a particular publication and its current value. You may also want to include the NCS contact information. For example:

"Employment Cost Index (ECI), Wages and Salaries, Private Industry, All Workers, Not Seasonally Adjusted (December 2005 = 100) as published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics."

"These data may be obtained by contacting the NCS information office at 202.691.6199.  The June 2007 for this series, as published in July 2007 was 105.1.



Last Modified Date: July 22, 2008