The share of total U.S. employee compensation spent on benefits increased sharply between 2000 and 2007.

Researchers at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, have reported that finding in a study based on U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

Total compensation increased to $7.8 trillion, from $5.8 trillion, between 2000 and 2007, and benefits spending increased to $1.5 trillion, from $953 trillion.

The percentage of total spending allocated to benefits increased to 19%, from 16%.

Retirement spending increased to $694 billion, from $459 billion, and health benefits spending increased to $623 billion, from $400 billion.

Group health plans accounted for $532 billion of 2007 benefits spending, up from $331 billion in 2000, the EBRI researchers report.

Military health insurance and Medicare hospital coverage accounted for the remainder of the spending.