You May Be Making 30% More Than You Think

If you have a have a job that includes benefits, you might want to think twice before criticizing your boss for being cheap. The latest research from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics shows that the average U.S. worker earns $20.67 per hour, but additional benefit costs to the employer average $9.04. Total employer costs for each employee average $29.71 these days. That's an additional dollar more in benefits you're making now than you were three months ago.

Benefits, according to the DOLS, in addition to health insurance, include: paid leave (vacation, holiday, sick leave, and personal leave), which averaged $2.06 (6.9 percent of total compensation); supplemental pay (overtime and premium, shift differentials, and nonproduction bonuses), which averaged 73 cents per hour worked (2.5 percent); retirement and savings (defined benefit and defined contribution plans), which averaged $1.32 per hour (4.5 percent); and legally required benefits (Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation), which averaged $2.30 per hour worked (7.7 percent).

You can see that your employer covers a lot of tacked-on expenses to your salary or hourly wage, so you might want to cut the boss a little slack. You can also get a better understanding of why it's difficult for small businesses to add full-time employees when times are tough.

Location, location

Location does make a difference. Employers are most generous in the Northeast and Northern California. At the top of the list for total compensation costs is the $38.62 employers pay in the Boston-Worcester-Manchester metropolitan area. Of that total, benefits average $12.36 per hour. Next comes the $38.52 in total employer costs for the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland area, with employees averaging $27.10 per hour worked and the employers kicking in an extra $11.42 in benefits.

At the bottom of the list are the workers in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla., metropolitan area where employers pay about $24.00 per hour on the average, which includes benefits plus wages.

Of course those in management and professional fields average the highest wages, both in salaries and benefits.They average $34.08 per hour, with their employers kicking in an extra 14.58 in benefits. Those in the service industry average the least, making about $11.55 per hour and an extra $4.71 in benefits. There's no getting around it: You can earn more with education and experience under your belt.

So if you've become discouraged by the low wages you see being offered lately, consider the fact that the value of benefits can add more than a third to your wages. A $15.00 per hour job actually becomes a $20 per hour job, when you include the additional benefits. Things may not be quite as tight as they initially seem.

Next:Are You Being Paid Fairly? >>

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