Overview of BLS Statistics on Pay and Benefits

BLS publishes a large amount of information on the wages, earnings, and benefits of workers. Generally, this information is categorized in one or more of the following ways:

  • Geographic area (national, regional, State, metropolitan area, or county data)
  • Occupation (such as teacher or carpenter)
  • Industry (such as manufacturing or retail trade)

Additional categories such as age, sex, or union membership may be used in some cases.

Employment Cost Trends

This program publishes quarterly statistics that measure change in labor costs (also called employment costs or compensation costs) over time; quarterly data measuring the level of costs per hour worked are also published. Indexes are available for total labor costs, and separately for wages and salaries and for benefit costs. Some information is available by region, major industry group, major occupational group, and bargaining status.

National Compensation Data

The National Compensation Survey (NCS) provides comprehensive measures of occupational earnings; compensation cost trends, benefit incidence, and detailed plan provisions. Detailed occupational earnings are available for metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas, broad geographic regions, and on a national basis. The index component of the NCS (ECI) measures changes in labor costs. Average hourly employer cost for employee compensation is presented in the ECEC.

Wages by Area and Occupation

Wage data are available by occupation for the Nation, regions, States, and many metropolitan areas. Wage data by area and occupation are from the National Compensation Survey, Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, or the Current Population Survey. See Wages by Area and Occupation to determine which information suits your needs.

Earnings by Demographics

Earnings data are available by demographic characteristics such as age, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. See also Earnings by education.

Earnings by Industry

The Current Employment Statistics survey is a monthly survey of the payroll records of business establishments that provides data on earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers at the National level. Earnings data from this survey are only available for production workers in manufacturing at State and local levels.

County Wages (Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages)

Annual and quarterly wage data are available by detailed industry for the Nation, States, and many metropolitan areas and counties.

Employee Benefits

National Compensation Survey–Benefits provides information on the share of workers who participate in specified benefits, such as health care, retirement plans, and paid vacations. These data also show the details of those benefits, such as deductible amounts, retirement ages, and amounts of paid leave.

International Compensation Costs

Comparative hourly compensation costs in national currencies and U.S. dollars for production workers and all employees in manufacturing are available on the Foreign Labor Statistics Tables page starting from 1975 for 36 economies.

Compensation Research and Program Development Group

The Compensation Research and Program Development Group (CRPDG) carries out research that addresses methodological, conceptual, and technical issues of concern to the Office of Compensation and Working Conditions (OCWC) and other Bureau programs.

Strikes and Lockouts (Work Stoppages)

Data on major work stoppages are available—major work stoppages involve 1,000 or more workers and last a full shift or longer. BLS does not distinguish between strikes and lockouts in the data; both are included in the term "work stoppages".

What BLS Does Not Have:

BLS does not publish detailed information on household income, which includes not only wages and salaries, but also interest, dividends, pensions, etc. Information on household income is available from the U.S. Census Bureau.


Last Modified Date: July 19, 2008