More workers in the west have health benefits

Survey shows that western states offer the most access to employer benefits but fall short on benefits for retirees

Employees in the western United States have better access to health benefits than the rest of the country but the lowest national rate of access to retiree benefits, according to a new survey.

The National Compensation Survey, released by the U.S. Department of Labor, showed that 73 per cent of employees in California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Alaska had access to employer-funded medical benefits compared with 70 per cent of workers nationwide who received the same benefits.

While 60 per cent of employees nationwide were able to keep their benefits after they retired, only 55 per cent of workers in the western states could do the same.

Companies in the Pacific region were also more likely to offer employees stock options (12 per cent) compared to the rest of the country (eight per cent).

The survey showed that nation-wide 44 per cent of workers in service jobs had access to health benefits compared with 77 per cent in white-collar jobs.

The Department of Labor surveyed 4,560 private employers, covering about 103 million workers, from December 2002 to January 2005.

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