© Copyright 2003 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning


Employee Benefits in Wyoming: 2002

by: Carola Cowan, Economist

"Of total compensation, 77.8 percent was spent on wages...and 6.3 percent on health insurance and miscellaneous benefits."

There is currently a lack of information regarding employer-provided benefits. Collecting meaningful data without burdening respondents is always a challenge. The most important gap is the lack of information about the workforce.1 The United States General Accounting Office (GAO) stated that priorities for improving retirement data include obtaining better data by linking surveys with administrative data (such as employer records and Social Security earnings history records).2 The data will enable us to estimate if there will be a future shortfall in retirement income and identify the demographic characteristics of those affected. The same goes for the uncertainty of estimates of the uninsured. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports that more than 240 million people in the U.S. have health insurance coverage today. The vast majority (63%) are covered through their or a family memberís employer. The CBO cautions that estimates come from population surveys prone to reporting and other forms of statistical error, which could lead to an incorrect estimate of the size of the uninsured population.3

The Wyoming Department of Employmentís Research & Planning (R&P) Section has conducted an Employee Benefits Survey since 1999. This survey complements R&Pís Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage survey. Together, these efforts assist employers and employees in determining whether or not they are providing or receiving competitive compensation (wages and benefits). Employee benefits include paid leave, insurance, retirement plans, and miscellaneous benefits. The Benefits Survey questionnaires were mailed quarterly in 2002.4 We thank all employers who responded to the study and helped make it a success.

Core Benefits

In this article we focus on survey results for three core benefits: 1) health insurance, 2) retirement plans, and 3) paid holidays. We present survey results in response to two questions:

    1.     What percent of employers offer benefits?
    2.     What percent of employees have access to benefits?

Our analysis includes both the number of companies offering benefits and the number of employees who are offered benefits. The percentage for these two groups may or may not be similar depending on the number of employees affected by a companyís decision whether to offer a specific benefit. For example, if 7 of 10 companies offer health insurance, then 70 percent of the employers offer health insurance. Assume that each of the 7 companies offering health insurance has 1 employee, but each of the 3 other companies has 20 employees. The percentage of the total number of employees who are offered health insurance is only 10.4 percent (7 out of 67 total employees).

There is a significant positive relationship between the provision of benefits and company size. For full-time employees the availability of health insurance, retirement plans, and paid holidays increases with the size of the company offering the benefit. For example, 97.9 percent of workers in companies with 100 or more employees were offered health insurance compared to only 54.6 percent of full-time employees in companies with one to four workers (see Table 1). The same is true for employers; 95.9 percent of companies with 100 or more employees offered health insurance to their full-time employees compared to only 36.3 percent of companies with one to four employees (see Table 2).

The offering of benefits varies widely by industry. Health insurance, retirement plans, and paid holiday benefits offered to full-time employees by industry reveals that employers in Local Government; Wholesale Trade; and Finance, Insurance, & Real Estate (FIRE) are most likely to offer these benefits (see Figure 1). Similarly, employees in Local Government and FIRE are most likely to be offered these benefits (see Figure 2). More employees in Mining were provided benefits than those in Wholesale Trade (see Table 3). 

As in prior years, region (see Map) is not a good indicator for determining the likelihood of being offered benefits. Though companies classified as statewide5 entities offer benefits more often, it only confirms that company size is one of the major indicators for benefits. Most companies in the sample classified as statewide have 100 or more employees.


Employers spent 22.2 percent of total compensation on benefits (see Figure 3). Of total compensation, 77.8 percent was spent on wages, 10.0 percent went to retirement accounts, 5.9 percent to legally required benefits such as Social Security and Unemployment Insurance, and 6.3 percent to health insurance and miscellaneous benefits. 


Full-time employees are much more likely than part-time employees to be offered benefits. Employees in larger companies are at an advantage when it comes to benefits coverage. Employment in Government, Manufacturing, Mining, or Wholesale Trade also proves advantageous. Increasing the number of large companies would appear to be helpful in increasing the number of employees who have access to employer provided benefits.

The Employee Benefits Program is currently underway for the year 2003. We are working together with other states to develop a uniform Employee Benefits Survey. This will enable us to make direct state-to-state comparisons regarding employee benefits.

The entire Employee Benefits in Wyoming: 2002 publication can be obtained on our website or by contacting Carola Cowan at (307) 473-3804.

1Wiatrowski, W., Harvey, H. & Levit, K., (2002, Spring). Employment-related health insurance: Federal agenciesí roles in meeting data needs. [On-line]. Available: http://cms.hhs.gov/

2U.S. General Accounting Office (2003, May 21). Retirement income data: Improvements could better support analysis of future retirees' prospects. (GAO-03-337). [On-line]. Available: http://www.gao.gov 

3Congressional Budget Office. (2003, May). How many people lack health insurance and for how long? [On-line]. Available: http://www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=4210&sequence=0 

4A stratified random sample of 500 companies was selected for each of the first three quarters of 2002. We increased the sample size for the fourth quarter to 787 due to a sample expansion request from the University of Wyoming. A total of 2,287 companies received the questionnaire in 2002. A joint article with the University analyzing the results is in progress.

The sample was drawn from the most current Quarterly Unemployment Insurance (QUI) employer database available. This database contains the data reported by approximately 18,000 employers on a quarterly basis for Unemployment Insurance purposes. Companies reporting zero employees for all three months, employers in agriculture, federal and state government, and private household employers were not included in our sample.

5A company is considered statewide if it has employees in more than one county.

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