Magazine article Workforce Management

Employees Bow Out

Magazine article Workforce Management

Employees Bow Out

Article excerpt

The plunge in real wages and the rise in employee contributions for health benefits fall disproportionately on low-wage workers and pull down participation rates.

DATA BANK | Research & analysis by Fay Hansen

THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE information available on benefits comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual survey. The data for 2006 cover 10,370 private companies representing 105 million employees. The new survey confirms the continuation of a number of well-documented trends, including the ongoing rise in health benefit costs, increased cost shifting and falling participation rates.

For workers earning less than $1 5 per hour, the average flat annual contribution for health insurance premiums reached $3,735 in 2006, a 30 percent increase from 2003, while the employer contribution totaled $6,612.72, up 18 percent. Even for workers at the top end of this wage range, health benefit contributions easily represent I 5 percent of after-tax earnings.

Employers carry a larger share of the cost of premiums for workers earning $ 1 5 per hour or more, paying an average of 73 percent of the premiums for this group, compared with 66 percent for the low-wage group. …

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