Average compensation in the West: $29.95 per hour

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Nationally, employee costs among private industry employers in the United States averaged $28.10 an hour in 2009– with 70 percent of those costs coming from actual wages and nearly 30 percent for benefits, according to newly released information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In the West, wages and salaries averaged $21.28 and accounted for 71 percent of all compensation costs. Costs for benefits averaged $8.67, representing 29 percent of total compensation. Legally required benefits were $5.29 per hour worked. The cost of insurance equaled $2.24 per hour and represented 7.5 percent of total compensation.

In other parts of the country, employer costs for compensation in private industries ranged from $24.93 an hour in the South to $32.16 in the Northeast, labor statistics show.

Employer costs are based on the national compensation survey, which measures costs for wages, salaries and employee benefits, including paid time off and health insurance. The survey does not included self-employed, farm or private household workers.