Access to Employee Benefits Varies Widely by Sector, Wages

Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Legal Editor

July 30, 2015

The proportion of workers who have access to retirement and medical care benefits differs significantly, depending on whether the workers are in the public or private sector and on how much they are paid.

Just about two out of every three private-industry workers in the United States had access to retirement benefits as of March 2015, according to new federal statistics.

In contrast, nine out of 10 state and local government workers had access to retirement benefits - a difference of 24 percentage points over their private-sector counterparts.

The gulf in access to retirement benefits was even wider between the nation's highest- and lowest-paid workers. About three in 10 workers with the lowest 10 percent of wages had access, while about nine in 10 workers with the highest 10 percent of wages had access.

Similar variations are evident in access to medical care benefits (69 percent for private industry vs. 87 percent for state and local governments; 23 percent for the lowest-paid workers vs. 94 percent for the highest-paid workers).

Employers looking to benchmark their benefits packages can find these and many other statistics at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' benefits home page.