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National Compensation Survey (NCS) Respondents
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Welcome to the National Compensation Survey
Information for Respondents

The National Compensation Survey is conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on wages and benefits for America’s workforce.

Whether this is the first time we have asked you to respond to the survey; or you have already provided information for it, you probably have some questions.


Why participate?

We need your help. Without participants like you, we could not fulfill our mission, and the information we publish would not accurately reflect the economic conditions of our country. The quality of our statistics depends on the number and diversity of companies in our survey. Each participant is critical to the accuracy and completeness of our data. Our nation relies on the Bureau of Labor Statistics for gold-standard information, and we depend on you.

We respect your time and appreciate your help, so we design our surveys to be efficient. Our survey questions are easy to understand and we try to minimize the time it takes to answer them.

National Compensation Survey data help people like you make wise decisions that affect lives and move dollars. Thank you for your support.

Is my confidentiality protected?

Yes. We understand confidentiality is important to you. That is why the law and our own security policies strictly protect the confidentiality of our survey participants.

Federal law prohibits us from releasing any information that could reveal the identity of you or your business without your consent. The information you provide is used to describe and analyze the characteristics of groups; not individuals, households, or specific organizations.

We have established multiple layers of protection for our computer systems and records, and we regularly train our staff concerning policies to protect your information. Your information is safe with us.

For more information on confidentiality, see Confidentiality Pledge and Laws.

What does BLS need from me?

Data! If you are selected for the National Compensation Survey, a BLS field economist will reach out to you. To get started, he or she will ask for the following information:

  1. A current list of jobs at your organization
  2. Individual rates of pay for select jobs
  3. Information about benefits you provide

The field economist will ask you to update any changes in pay and benefits each quarter while your company remains in the National Compensation Survey.

For more information on what questions the field economist will ask, see National Compensation Survey data sources.

Who uses the data?

The data you provide helps a wide variety of users, including business owners and human resource professionals, budget and contract specialists, jobseekers, researchers and analysts, and policymakers.

Business owners and human resource professionals

Business owners and human resource professionals use BLS data as a guide when choosing benefits they offer. In addition, companies may use our data to remain competitive in the labor market.

To attract and keep workers, employers may provide more benefits. These prospective benefits may be traditional or emerging. Employers can search the benefits data to evaluate benefits that employers offer nationwide.

Budget and contract specialists

Budget and contract specialists can use the Employment Cost Index to estimate budget needs and escalate labor costs in contracts.

See our description of How to use the Employment Cost Index for escalation.


Jobseekers can use the Employment Cost Index and the Employee Cost for Employee Compensation to see how compensation compares among different occupations, industries, and regions. Jobseekers also can use these data to see how much employers spend on benefits, or to compare the benefits provided by current or potential employers with broader averages.

Researchers and Analysts

Researchers use the National Compensation Survey data to study trends and changes in the labor market.


“As a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey participant, you help enhance our understanding of the increasingly complex U.S. economy. The more we understand, the better we are able to fulfill our mission and promote the prosperity of American workers, consumers, and businesses.” – Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome H. Powell

Policymakers use pay and benefit data to evaluate, design, and update policy. For example, the federal government and state and local governments use National Compensation Survey data to set their pay increases. The Employment Cost Index is indispensable for adjusting wage rates to keep pace with what other employers pay. The data on employer costs and the benefits workers receive also help policymakers understand labor market conditions.

You can see more examples of how information from the National Compensation Survey is used in the presentation section of the Handbook of Methods.


Last Modified Date: June 19, 2018