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Labor stats document partner benefits
From news releases, updated July 27, 2011
2011-07-27

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Bureau of Labor Statistics releases data on domestic partner benefits: 30% of workers have access to domestic partner benefits for same-sex partners

WASHINGTON, DC - For the first time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data July 26 on employer-provided domestic partner benefits. The data was from the National Compensation Survey, which collected data on the employment benefit policies from more than 15,000 employers in the public and private sectors. The new questions added this year to the National Compensation Survey will provide annual measures of employees' access to benefits for unmarried domestic partners.

"We commend the Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics for adding questions to measure the growing access of same-sex and different —sex unmarried couples to employee benefits," said Williams Distinguished Scholar Gary Gates. "These data are important to measuring both the promising growth in these benefits and the continuing inequality that unmarried couples face in obtaining access to them."

"I thank the groups and stakeholders, including the Williams Institute, that worked with the bureau to incorporate new questions on domestic partner benefits," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Together, we have made sure the National Compensation Survey truly reflects the diversity of work and workers in the United States."

The report shows that 30% of civilian employees ( private sector, state and local government employees, but not federal government employees ) have access to health benefits for same-sex domestic partners, and 25% have access to health benefits for different-sex domestic partners. State and local employees ( 33% ) have more access to health benefits for same-sex partners than do private sector employees ( 29% ) .

"While encouraging, these data show that 70% of employees still do not have access to health care benefits for same-sex partners," said Williams Institute Executive Director Brad Sears. "And while the report leaves out federal employees, including over 2 million civilian employees, they are currently also not provided health benefits for same-sex partners. "

The report shows that employees were more likely to have access to domestic partner benefits if they worked full-time or had a union contract. Those who worked in the public sector and for larger companies were also more likely to receive these benefits. Those who worked part-time, in a service job, or in the South or North Central regions were less likely to receive these benefits.

When looking at survivor benefits in defined benefit plans, half of state and local government employees can name an unmarried partner, while less than 10% of private sector employees can do so. The difference is largely due to the fact that very few private sector employers offer defined benefit retirement plans.

To read the full report, visit http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ebs2.nr0.htm.

A summary of the NCS' findings on domestic partner benefits is available at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/ebs2.pdf

The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makers, and the public. For more information, please visit www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute.

Bureau of Labor Statistics News Release, July 26, 2011

WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued the following statement on the Bureau of Labor Statistics report released today on Employee Benefits in the United States, a component of the annual National Compensation Survey:

"For the first time, in order to better understand the benefits available to an increasingly diverse American workforce, this year's survey includes information on domestic partner benefits. This comprehensive report will be of significant interest to employers and workers alike. It provides a better, fuller picture of employee benefits in workplaces across our nation.

"The bureau's Office of Compensation Levels and Trends should be commended for the successful completion of this year's survey of more than 15,000 establishments in the public and private sectors, as should the groups and stakeholders that worked with the bureau to incorporate new questions on domestic partner benefits. Together, they've made sure that the National Compensation Survey truly reflects the diversity of work and workers in the United States."

To read the report, visit www.bls.gov/news.release/ebs2.nr0.htm.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force welcomes first-ever federal data related to benefits for same-sex couples

WASHINGTON, July 26 — The U.S. Department of Labor today released results of the National Compensation Survey, which for the first time includes federal data on domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples. The information will help provide a more complete picture of how employers treat same-sex couples with respect to benefits. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force welcomes the inclusion of same-sex couples in federal data collection as a step toward better understanding the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ( LGBT ) people across the country.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, says, "With each effort to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in surveys like this, the Department of Labor moves us closer to being able to better serve the community. Data collection is fundamental to addressing the disparities in employment, health, education and income facing our community. We thank Secretary Solis for taking this step in the right direction."

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has been a leading advocate for the inclusion of LGBT people in federally supported surveys. Data collection reveals important information about how people live and what their needs are in areas such as health care, family, employment, housing, education and more. Prior to the release of this National Compensation Survey, there was no nationally recognized data on benefits available to employees in a same-sex relationship.


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