Section I: Purpose

This publication complements the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) wage survey Research & Planning (R&P) conducts. 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. We thank all employers who responded to the study and helped make it a success.

Section II: Results in Brief

We present survey results in response to two questions:

1. What percentage of employers offer benefits?
2. What percentage 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 percentages for these two groups may or may not be similar depending on the number of employees affected by a company’s decision whether to offer a specific benefit. For example, if there is a total of 10 companies and 7 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 have 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).

The size of the company and an employee’s full- or part-time status are still the best predictors of the availability of benefits.

In 2001, total compensation in Wyoming was comprised of 77.8 percent wages and salaries and 22.2 percent benefits (see Figure 1).

Section III: Introduction

In 2002 the Economic Report of the President devoted over 40 pages to the issue of health insurance coverage and costs (Council of Economic Advisors, 2002). The report finds health care one of the largest sectors of the American economy, representing 13.4 percent of the United States’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Health care spending is forecasted to rise to 15.9 percent of the GDP by 2010. Over the long term, it will become even more predominant in the economy, continuing a 60-year economic trend and reaching as much as 38 percent of GDP under conservative assumptions.

Since 1980, the Census Bureau has estimated the number of people with health insurance coverage in the United States through the Current Population Survey Annual Demographic Supplement (Nelson & Mills, 2001). According to its estimates, 14.6 percent of the population was without health insurance coverage during the entire year of 2001, up from 14.2 percent in 2000, an increase of 1.4 million people. This reverses two years of falling uninsured rates. The Kaiser Family Foundation (2001), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2003, November 4), and the National Rural Health Association (2003, November 4) estimate that uninsured rates in rural areas are higher than rates in urban areas, with most studies placing the percentage of uninsured at approximately 20 percent. 

Though our survey does not address the issue of how many people in Wyoming are covered by health insurance, it does help us estimate how many workers have access to employer-based health insurance. In 2003 we also added a question that will let us know what percentage of eligible employees choose to be covered by their employer’s health insurance.

There is currently a lack of information regarding employer-provided benefits. Collecting meaningful data without burdening respondents is always a challenge. According to Wiatrowski, Harvey, and Levit (2002), the most important gap is the lack of information about the workforce. The United States General Accounting Office (2003) stated that priorities for improving knowledge about retirement include obtaining better data by linking surveys with administrative data (such as employer records, and Social Security earnings history records). These compilations will then enable us to estimate any shortfall in retirement income in the future and better show the demographic characteristics of those retirees. The same goes for the uncertainty of estimates of the uninsured. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO, 2003) 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 member’s employer. The CBO does caution that estimates come from population surveys that are prone to reporting and other forms of statistical error, which could lead to either an underestimate or an overestimate of the size of the uninsured population.

Section IV: Changes to the Benefits Questionnaire

The 2002 questionnaire was revised during the survey year. The first quarter followed the 2001 survey format. Starting in the second quarter 2002, some major changes were incorporated into the survey. In the Paid Leave Section, the personal leave question was moved to precede the paid vacation and paid sick leave questions. The explanation for personal leave was extended to include companies that do not distinguish between paid vacation and sick leave. This change resulted in a far greater number of companies reporting paid leave under personal leave instead of paid vacation as was the case previously. Therefore, those numbers are not directly comparable to previous years.

Another change occurred in the cost section. A question about costs for paid leave was removed, and employers were instructed to report the total for legally required benefits if they could not divide the costs into separate legally required benefit categories.

Section V: Drawing the Sample

The researchers selected a stratified random sample of 500 companies for each of the first three quarters of 2002, and 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.

Researchers drew from the most current Quarterly Unemployment Insurance (QUI) employer database available. This database contains data reported by approximately 18,000 employers on a quarterly basis for Unemployment Insurance purposes. Companies reporting zero employees for all three months, federal and state government, employers in Agriculture, and private household employers were not included in our sample. Researchers also excluded companies that had previously been sampled or are being surveyed by OES. 

The following data fields were added by researchers: average employment, size class, major industry, and region. The size class is determined by the company’s average employment during the quarter sampled. Employers are divided among six different size classes (see Table 1). The major industry is determined by the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code assigned to that employer (see Figure 2). The exception is Government, which was determined by ownership code instead of SIC code, because some government agencies such as public schools are coded in industries other than Public Administration. The region is determined by the county code assigned by the Wyoming Department of Employment (see Map).

Researchers then selected a random sample stratified by employment size class, industry, and region for companies with 1 to 99 employees. Each quarter we sampled 25 percent of the companies with 100 or more employees; by the end of the year all 338 employers had been sampled. This was necessary to get an adequate sample because of the small number of large employers in Wyoming. Large employers are therefore proportionally over- represented in our study.

Section VI: Results

Response Rates

The overall response rate for the survey in 2002 was 69.2 percent or 1,583 employers out of 2,287 surveyed. These 1,583 companies employed a total of 59,644 employees. Of those, 77.1 percent were employed full-time and 22.9 percent were part-time (see Figure 3). This matches our wage records estimates for full-and part-time employment. Managerial and professional employees held 21.1 percent of those jobs, clerical and technical employees held 24.1 percent, and production, service, and maintenance employees held 54.8 percent. Additionally, Figures A-2, -3, and -4 show response rates by employers’ industry, size class, and region. The response rate by size class indicates that employers with 50 or more employees are much less likely to respond than smaller employers. Statewide Employers are also less likely to respond, as are employers in Wholesale Trade and Mining.

The results were weighted by the employment for each industry as estimated in the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program. This was done to account for employment differences in our sample. In order to adjust for differences in employing units in each industry, we weighted our sample by units reported for each industry to UI Covered Employment data. This helps correct for response rate differences across industries and over representation of large firms.

Most Common Benefits

Table 2 shows that the three benefits employers most frequently offered to full-time employees were paid holidays (63.7%), health insurance (62.7%), and dependent health insurance (53.6%). To their part-time employees, employers most often offered employee discounts (32.5%), a Christmas bonus (24.9%) and flex-time (22.8%). The average number of paid holidays was 8.6 days for full-time employees (see Table 3).

Full-time employees were most often offered health insurance (91.3%), dependent health insurance (88.2%), and paid holidays (84.2%); see Table 4. Part-time employees were offered employee discounts (44.2%), paid jury duty leave (36.7%), and retirement plans (35.6%). Keep in mind that the survey only asked if employees were offered certain benefits. This does not necessarily mean the employees elected to participate in benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans in which employees usually share some of the costs. The analysis showed that employers on average pay 83.3 percent of health insurance costs for full-time employees. For dependent health insurance of full-time employees, the employer contribution was 62.5 percent (see Table 5).

Core Benefits

For the rest of the analysis we focus on three core benefits: 1) health insurance, 2) retirement plans, and 3) paid holidays. 

An analysis of health insurance, retirement plans, and paid holidays benefits offered to full-time employees by industry reveals that employers in Government; Wholesale Trade; and Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (FIRE) are most likely to offer these benefits (see Figure 4). Similarly, employees in Government and FIRE most often received these benefits (see Figure 5). Mining ranks higher than did Wholesale Trade (see Table B-1). This is probably due to the larger number of employees in Mining than in Wholesale Trade.

Defined contribution retirement plans such as IRAs and 401(k)s are more often offered than defined benefit retirement plans such as pensions. Defined contribution retirement plans were offered to full-time employees by 81.9 percent of the companies that offered a retirement plan. Overall, 28.8 percent of the companies offered a defined benefit plan to their full-time employees (see Tables B-4, -5, and -6). This adds up to more than 100 percent because some companies offer both options to their employees, leading to 72.2 percent of full-time employees being offered a defined contribution plan and 49.5 percent of full-time employees being offered a defined benefit plan (see Tables B-7, -8, and -9). Employers paid all the costs for their full-time employees’ retirement plans in 29.4 percent of the cases and shared the cost with the employees in 63.3 percent of the cases (see Tables B-4, -5, and -6).

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 employees (see Table B-11). 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 B-2).

As in prior years, region is not a good indicator for determining the likelihood of benefits. Though companies classified as statewide entities offer benefits more often, it only confirms that company size is one of the major indicators for benefits; most companies classified as statewide have 100 or more employees.


Employers spent 22.2 percent of total compensation on benefits (see Figure 1). 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.

Section VII: Conclusion

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, and revisions were made for the first quarter in conjunction with the University of Wyoming. 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.

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These pages designed by Susan J. Murray.
Last modified on by Valerie A. Davis.