NU Online News Service, Jan. 26, 2005, 5:59 p.m. EST

A Washington business group says its members are spending just a little more on health insurance, paid time off and other benefits.[@@]

The group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says member employers spent an average of $18,358 in benefits per employee in 2003, about 2% more than they spent in 2002.

The member employers spent $5,653 on health benefits, $4,932 on paid time off and $3,303 on retirement and savings.

Employee benefit costs represented 38% of payroll for the 600 participating employers, and medical benefits represented 12% of payroll.