© Copyright 1999 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning

Employee Benefits Survey: A Pilot Study for Wyoming
by: Carola Cowan , Senior Statistician

". . . 60.5 percent of companies offered health insurance to clerical and technical employees but only 4.0 percent offered child day care to these same employees."

Variations in the benefits that employees receive depend on industry, size of the company and the employee occupational category. Beyond conducting an annual wage survey,1 Research & Planning has expanded its work to include a pilot study of employee benefits. This information assists employers and employees in determining whether or not they are providing and receiving competitive compensation (wages and benefits). We thank the 930 employers who participated in this survey and helped us make it a success.

Results

Companies most often offered health insurance, life insurance, a retirement plan, a dental plan and employee discounts (see Table 1). Paid paternity and maternity leave as well as child day care were offered by far fewer companies than the top five benefits. For example, 60.5 percent of companies offered health insurance to clerical and technical employees but only 4.0 percent offered child day care to these same employees.

The analysis of benefits paid by companies in different industries reveals that an employer in either Public Administration or Mining is more likely to provide benefits than an employer in Agriculture or Retail Trade (see Table 2). For example, 95.8 percent of companies in Public Administration and 85.7 percent of companies in Mining offered health insurance benefits to their production, maintenance and service employees. On the other hand, only 37.2 percent of companies in Retail Trade and 47.9 percent of companies in Agriculture offered health insurance benefits to their production, maintenance and service employees.

One way to distinguish between the frequency of benefits offered is by employee occupational category. The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program distinguishes between 750 occupations, which are categorized in the following three broad categories: Managerial and Professional; Clerical and Technical; and Production, Maintenance and Service. Managerial and professional employees are more likely to receive benefits than clerical and technical or production, maintenance and service employees. For example, 51.8 percent of companies offered managerial and professional employees life insurance, but only 49.1 percent of companies offered life insurance to clerical and technical and 46.1 percent to production, maintenance and service employees (see Table 1). In most cases, the analysis showed that if an employer had employees in all three employee occupational categories, they all received the same benefits. The difference lies mostly in the fact that not all companies had employees in all three categories.

Companies offer more paid leave to their managerial and professional employees than to their clerical and technical or production, maintenance and service employees. The average number of days for paid holidays were 5.5 for managerial and professional, 5.1 for clerical and technical, and 4.3 for production, maintenance and service employees (see Table 3). Managerial and professional employees had to be with the company on average 2.5 months to receive this benefit. Clerical and technical employees averaged 2.4 months and production, maintenance and service employees averaged 2.6 months (see Table 4).

A look at benefits and firm size shows a significant correlation between the two. The larger the company, the more likely it offers benefits (see Table 5). Companies with 100 or more employees all offered health insurance, and all companies with 250 or more employees offered life insurance. By contrast, only 41.8 percent, 33.9 percent and 27.8 percent of companies with "1-4" employees offered health insurance benefits to their managerial and professional, clerical and technical or production, maintenance and service employees, respectively.

At this time, we are unable to publish data about the costs of benefits to employers.2 Over half of the employers who returned the survey provided no response or were uncertain about the cost of benefits to their companies. Some confusion may have been due to the way the question was phrased. One explanation is that survey respondents may not have access to the data necessary to answer the question. The person in a company that pays the benefits bills may not be the one writing the pay checks. Neither one may have access to the other's records or the income statement of the company, which would also contain this data. More importantly, no person may have been assigned the responsibility to complete survey forms.

Data Collection

A sample of 1,500 companies was selected to receive this survey. The sample was drawn from the Quarterly Unemployment Insurance (QUI) employer database for first quarter 1998. This database contains the data reported by employers on a quarterly basis for unemployment insurance purposes. The QUI for the second quarter 1998 was appended to the first quarter to include those employers who may have had staff in the first quarter but did not report until the second quarter. Companies that reported zero employees for all three months were deleted. To the remaining database of 16,122 companies, we added the following data fields: Average Employment, Class Size, Industry by Major Division and Region (see Map). We then selected the minimum number of companies with "1-4" employees so that there was a 95.0 percent confidence that the statewide estimates would be within 5.0 percent of the true value. This corresponded to a sample size of n=385, which was randomly selected from the population of companies with "1-4" employees. A random sample was selected from companies with five to 249 employees and the companies were stratified by Region, Class Size (see Table 6) and Industry. The sample size was n=992. Lastly, 100.0 percent of companies with 250 or more employees were taken because of the small number of companies falling into this category. That sample size was n=123.

Overall, 62.0 percent of the companies surveyed responded. In the analysis, we weighted the replies by the response rate to account for non-respondents. We also eliminated missing values, since many employers left answers blank because they did not have employees in that employee category. This is a problem that often occurs in less populated states with a lot of small companies such as Wyoming.

We are currently working on a parallel track with Nebraska and South Dakota, as they develop their own benefits surveys. The three states communicate on this subject to make their efforts more efficient and productive by learning from each otherís mistakes and successes.

Conclusion

We determined that companies are more likely to provide benefits to managerial and professional employees than to clerical and technical or production, maintenance and service employees. Production, maintenance and service employees are the least likely to receive benefits. The larger the company, the more benefits it offers. There is a relationship between benefits and industries. A higher percentage of companies in Public Administration and Mining offer benefits than other industries. The exceptions include companies which offer profit sharing and employee discounts depending on the nature of the business. Agriculture offers by far the fewest benefits followed by Retail Trade and Construction.

Overall, this pilot survey was a success and we plan to continue this survey in the future, after some revisions. Research & Planning also plans to continue coordinating our efforts with neighboring states, such as South Dakota and Nebraska, since they are currently working on their own benefits surveys.

These data are also available in more detail in Research & Planningís publication Wyoming Benefits Survey. To receive a copy, please call (307) 473-3804 or e-mail me at: ccowan@state.wy.us.

1 Deana Hauf, Wyoming Wage Survey.

2 Detailed information on the cost of benefits to employers on the national level is available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics each year. See "Employer Costs for Employee Compensation - March 1999," News, Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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