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Personal Finance

Benefits: Many come up short
BLS study shows roughly a third of private-sector employees lack health, retirement plans.
November 10, 2004: 9:49 AM EST

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Only 60 percent of private-sector workers have access to a retirement plan, while 69 percent have access to employer-sponsored health insurance plans.

Those numbers are little changed from last year, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The National Compensation Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that 69 percent of private industry employees had access to employer-sponsored health plans in March 2004, with 53 percent of eligible workers participating, unchanged from a year earlier.

The majority of employees covered by such plans are required to contribute to their own coverage. Monthly premiums for family coverage averaged $264.59 (or $3,175.08 a year) and $67.57 (or $810.84 annually) for singles.

A study released by Kaiser in September found that annual premiums for family coverage in employer-sponsored plans averaged $2,661 while singles paid an average of $558. It also found the percent of those covered by employer-sponsored plans fell to 61 percent from 65 percent in 2001, leaving an estimated 5 million fewer jobs providing health insurance.

When it comes to retirement benefits, the BLS survey found that 59 percent of employers have access to retirement benefits, with 50 percent of those workers enrolled in at least one type of plan. A year earlier, 57 percent of all workers were covered by a retirement plan and 49 percent participated in at least one such plan.

Of those workers covered by a retirement plan, 21 percent participated in defined benefit programs while 42 percent signed up for defined contribution plans, or 401(k) accounts. Some employees were covered by more than one type of plan.

The most common benefit provided by private sector employers is paid time off. Seventy-seven percent of workers received paid vacation time, 70 percent got paid jury duty leave, and 50 percent were permitted paid military leave.  Top of page

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