U.S. companies are spending more, on average, to provide benefits for their employees. But sometimes they do so only under pressure, and often added benefits come at the price of smaller pay raises.
Which industries spend the most on benefits? Companies in industries that are either government regulated or unionized or both. From a worker’s point of view, pressure on the boss pays in terms of benefits.
Public utilities are both unionized and regulated. That is, government agencies permit most utilities to charge enough for electricity and the like to cover their costs along with a reasonable profit.
So it is not surprising that utilities finished first in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s recently released benefits survey for 1993. They spent $21,388 per employee. heavily unionized industries - petroleum companies and vehicle manufacturers - finished second and third in spending on employees for pensions, medical and life insurance, sick leave and vacations.
“Historically, unionized industries have had very strong employee benefits packages and that persists today,” said Paul Yakovski, of the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Such rules of thumb tell only part of the story. In the case of utilities, good benefits sometimes are used to offset relatively low wages.