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Between March 2000 and 2010, health care benefits grew from 5.5% to 7.5% of total compensation costs nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In March 2010, health insurance averaged $2.08/hour worked in private industry — more than disability, retirement, Medicare, Social Security, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, life insurance or paid leave. Not surprisingly, the Northeast led the nation in health insurance costs at $2.40/hour. Nationally, union workers’ health benefits ($4.38/ hour) were significantly higher than for non-union workers ($1.82/hour). Health costs were higher in goods-producing industries ($2.88/hour) than service-providing industries ($1.92). Among occupational groups, costs were highest for management, professional and related health insurance ($3.03/hour) and lowest for service jobs ($0.92/hour). Costs at larger establishments were higher than for smaller businesses; establishments with over 500 workers averaged $3.38/hour for health benefits compared to $1.34 in establishments with fewer than 50 workers.
Ellen Andrews