DOL headquarters in Washington (Photo: Mike Scarcella/ALM)

U.S. workers’ access to employee benefits may have stayed about the same between March 2018 and March 2019, even as the overall U.S. civilian unemployment rate fell to 3.8%, from 4%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — an arm of the U.S. Department of Labor — has published data supporting that conclusion in a collection of results from the bureau’s March civilian employer survey.

(Related: More Workers Have Life Benefits: Feds)

The percentage of U.S. civilian workers who had access to medical benefits seemed to edge lower, to 71%, from 72%, according to the BLS data. But the margin of error for that figure is 0.7%, meaning that the apparent 1-percentage drop in access could be mostly the result of a rounding error.

Here’s what happened to access to some other types of benefits:

  • Life insurance: The percentage of U.S. civilian workers said to have access to life insurance benefits held steady at 60%.
  • Short-term disability insurance: Access increased to 40%, from 39%. (The margin of error was 0.8%.)
  • Long-term disability insurance: Access held steady at 34%.

The new BLS survey report suggests that the benefits market may have been stronger in the West than in the South.

The percentage of workers in the West who had access to life insurance benefits, for example, increased to 60% in March, from 57% a year earlier.

The percentage of workers in the region that includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas who had access to life benefits fell to 59%, from 62%, and the percentage who actually got covered fell to 55%, from 60%.

Resources

Links to the new BLS benefits survey report and older benefits survey reports are available here.

— Read Group Health Take-Up Rates Hold Steadyon ThinkAdvisor.

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