ABSTRACT

Fringe benefits that are voluntarily provided by employers have been a significant part of total compensation in the United States for over 30 years. Comprising mainly pensions and health insurance, voluntary benefits are broad in their coverage and significant as a percentage of total compensation. In 1988, 55 percent of wage and salary workers over age 24 were included in an employer-provided pension plan, and 72 percent were covered by employer-provided health insurance (see Table 1 below). In 1986, voluntary benefit expenditures accounted for nearly 8 percent of total compensation, or $158 billion out of total compensation costs of over $2 trillion. 1 Proportion of Workers Included in Employer-Provided Pension and Group Health Insurance Plans, 1979 and 1988 (Total number of workers in each category in parentheses)

Proportion included in pension plan

Proportion included in group health insurance plan

Worker characteristics

1979

1988

1979

1988

All workers

0.599

0.550

0.737

0.720

(15,088)

(16,961)

(15,088)

(16,961)

Hourly wage and salary rate: (1982 dollars)

 Less than $4.51

0.209

0.193

0.356

0.360

(1,905)

(2,771)

(1,905)

(2,771)

 $4.51 to $6.50

0.428

0.436

0.608

0.652

(3,015)

(3,564)

(3,015)

(3,564)

 $6.51 to $10.00

0.641

0.607

0.792

0.791

(4,584)

(5,175)

(4,584)

(5,175)

 $10.01 to $14.00

0.778

0.743

0.886

0.868

(3,523)

(3,250)

(3,523)

(3,250)

 Greater than $14.00

0.812

0.768

0.903

0.896

(2,061)

(2,201)

(2,061)

(2,201)

Gender:

 Female

0.495

0.496

0.613

0.630

(6,401)

(8,025)

(6,401)

(8,025)

 Male

0.676

0.598

0.829

0.800

(8,687)

(8,936)

(8,687)

(8,936)

Age:

 25 to 34

0.566

0.474

0.743

0.715

(5,485)

(6,018)

(5,485)

(6,018)

 35 to 54

0.640

0.605

0.755

0.738

(6,910)

(8,682)

(6,910)

(8,682)

 55 to 64

0.626

0.601

0.740

0.714

(2,262)

(1,846)

(2,262)

(1,846)

 Greater than 64

0.220

0.284

0.350

0.436

(431)

(415)

(431)

(415)

Ethnicity:

 White non-Hispanic

0.611

0.555

0.746

0.725

(12,911)

(14,405)

(12,911)

(14,405)

 Black

0.554

0.551

0.681

0.708

(1,205)

(1,354)

(1,205)

(1,354)

 Hispanic

0.472

0.429

0.677

0.649

(634)

(701)

(634)

(701)

 Other

0.544

0.569

0.692

0.699

(338)

(501)

(338)

(501)

Education:

 0 to 8 years

0.426

0.342

0.622

0.579

(1,360)

(751)

(1,360)

(751)

 9 to 11 years

0.509

0.411

0.685

0.615

(1,645)

(1,428)

(1,645)

(1,428)

 12 years

0.592

0.525

0.725

0.692

(6,020)

(6,905)

(6,020)

(6,905)

 13 to 15 years

0.606

0.558

0.754

0.722

(2,668)

(3,437)

(2,668)

(3,437)

 16 years

0.678

0.627

0.793

0.799

(1,907)

(2,501)

(1,907)

(2,501)

 Greater than 16 years

0.769

0.710

0.847

0.845

(1,488)

(1,939)

(1,488)

(1,939)

Household status:

 Married head

0.694

0.632

0.839

0.817

(7,105)

(6,784)

(7,105)

(6,784)

 Married head with spouse covered

0.786

0.730

0.831

0.801

(1,617)

(2,073)

(1,858)

(2,269)

 Not married head with family

0.565

0.487

0.758

0.736

(1,129)

(1,294)

(1,129)

(1,294)

 Single head

0.563

0.544

0.766

0.771

(1,780)

(2,328)

(1,780)

(2,328)

 Spouse

0.483

0.499

0.552

0.576

(4,131)

(5,193)

(4,131)

(5,193)

Spouse with head covered

0.539

0.594

0.537

0.567

(2,212)

(2,561)

(2,620)

(3,193)

Relative of head

0.525

0.417

0.706

0.672

(663)

(918)

(663)

(918)

 Other

0.425

0.383

0.679

0.705

(280)

(444)

(280)

(444)

Employment status:

 Part time

0.232

0.247

0.299

0.287

(1,871)

(2,191)

(1,871)

(2,191)

 Full time

0.651

0.595

0.799

0.784

(13,217)

(14,770)

(13,217)

(14,770)

Job tenure:

 Less than 1 year

0.271

0.195

0.511

0.456

(2,104)

(2,361)

(2,104)

(2,361)

 1 to 2 years

0.411

0.331

0.643

0.608

(2,537)

(2,822)

(2,537)

(2,822)

 3 to 5 years

0.555

0.503

0.703

0.709

(2,932)

(3,427)

(2,932)

(3,427)

 6 to 10 years

0.709

0.660

0.803

0.788

(3,138)

(3,429)

(3,138)

(3,429)

 11 to 15 years

0.789

0.763

0.857

0.855

(1,815)

(1,979)

(1,815)

(1,979)

 Greater than 15 years

0.836

0.829

0.889

0.880

(2,562)

(2,943)

(2,562)

(2,943)

Employer size:

 Fewer than 25 workers

0.358

0.303

0.531

0.513

(5,201)

(5,409)

(5,201)

(5,409)

 25 to 99 workers

0.622

0.553

0.765

0.744

(3,642)

(4,212)

(3,642)

(4,212)

 More than 99 workers

0.786

0.731

0.892

0.858

(6,245)

(7,340)

(6,245)

(7,340)

Union membership:

 Covered

0.859

0.836

0.911

0.885

(4,507)

(3,848)

(4,507)

(3,848)

 Not covered

0.488

0.466

0.663

0.671

(10,581)

(13,113)

(10,581)

(13,113)

Industry:

 Agriculture

0.263

0.188

0.368

0.360

(247)

(239)

(247)

(239)

 Mining/Construction

0.576

0.459

0.733

0.633

(970)

(1,054)

(970)

(1,054)

 Durable goods

0.740

0.671

0.908

0.874

(2,354)

(2,113)

(2,354)

(2,113)

 Nondurable goods

0.669

0.619

0.851

0.841

(1,507)

(1,598)

(1,507)

(1,598)

 Transportation, communication, and public utilities

0.715

0.682

0.857

0.857

(1,096)

(1,377)

(1,096)

(1,377)

 Wholesale trade

0.580

0.476

0.815

0.760

(628)

(680)

(628)

(680)

 Retail trade

0.333

0.303

0.570

0.531

(1,846)

(2,075)

(1,846)

(2,075)

 Finance, insurance, and real estate

0.578

0.570

0.740

0.736

(900)

(1,236)

(900)

(1,236)

 Business services

0.336

0.333

0.617

0.605

(423)

(714)

(423)

(714)

 Personal services

0.168

0.149

0.318

0.379

(453)

(422)

(453)

(422)

 Entertainment services

0.216

0.312

0.522

0.587

(111)

(138)

(111)

(138)

 Professional and health services

0.632

0.595

0.676

0.691

(3,489)

(4,188)

(3,489)

(4,188)

 Public administration

0.879

0.858

0.854

0.850

(1,064)

(1,127)

(1,064)

(1,127)

Occupation:

 Managerial

0.626

0.627

0.823

0.808

(1,719)

(2,333)

(1,719)

(2,333)

 Professional/technical

0.736

0.675

0.798

0.796

(2,940)

(3,228)

(2,940)

(3,228)

 Sales

0.410

0.387

0.618

0.643

(804)

(1,613)

(804)

(1,613)

 Clerical

0.589

0.575

0.708

0.694

(2,959)

(2,983)

(2,959)

(2,983)

 Craft

0.667

0.596

0.824

0.776

(2,169)

(2,075)

(2,169)

(2,075)

 Operatives, except transport

0.606

0.558

0.824

0.803

(1,677)

(1,352)

(1,677)

(1,352)

 Transport operatives

0.596

0.504

0.747

0.746

(554)

(815)

(554)

(815)

 Laborers

0.574

0.477

0.724

0.682

(479)

(509)

(479)

(509)

 Service

0.386

0.365

0.489

0.505

(1,626)

(1,827)

(1,626)

(1,827)

 Farm

0.168

0.164

0.267

0.323

(161)

(226)

(161)

(226)

Region

 New England

0.569

0.516

0.727

0.714

(1,224)

(1,538)

(1,224)

(1,538)

 Middle Atlantic

0.678

0.603

0.792

0.765

(2,206)

(2,298)

(2,206)

(2,298)

 East North Central

0.659

0.598

0.786

0.729

(2,554)

(2,707)

(2,554)

(2,707)

 West North Central

0.513

0.545

0.672

0.676

(1,441)

(1.761)

(1.441)

(1.761)

 South Atlantic

0.584

0.533

0.736

0.720

(2,313)

(3,235)

(2,313)

(3,235)

 East South Central

0.556

0.514

0.710

0.715

(859)

(870)

(859)

(870)

 West South Central

0.526

0.503

0.670

0.704

(1,190)

(1,408)

(1,190)

(1,408)

 Mountain

0.589

0.521

0.713

0.702

(1,341)

(1,582)

(1,341)

(1,582)

 Pacific

0.601

0.557

0.736

0.707

(1.960)

(1.562)

(1.960)

(1.562)

Urban residence:

 SMSA

0.631

0.565

0.761

0.749

(8,707)

(9,079)

(8,707)

(9,079)

 Non-SMSA

0.555

0.533

0.704

0.686

(6,381)

(7,882)

(6,381)

(7,882)

SOURCE: Authors’ tabulations of wage and salary workers who responded to the May 1979 or May 1988 Employee Benefits Supplements to the Current Population Survey, who were 25 years old or older, who had earnings in the previous year, and who were not self-employed