Home / Top News / Considerable cross-state differences in workers’ compensation, as a ten-year trend of declining benefits nationally continues

Considerable cross-state differences in workers’ compensation, as a ten-year trend of declining benefits nationally continues

Washington, Oct. 14, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Costs, and Coverage – 2019 Data contains nineteen tables, seven figures, and five appendices covering national and state level data relevant to workers’ compensation outcomes. These data range from benefits, costs, and coverage to Department of Labor data on injuries and fatalities, and data on the overlaps between Social Security disability insurance and the workers’ compensation system. This latest report, issued annually by the National Academy of Social Insurance, also contains updated data for 2015-2018. 

“Although this report covers data only through 2019, it provides the necessary context of the pre-pandemic world that will serve as the main comparison point in next year’s data,” said Jennifer Wolf, Executive Director, International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions. “The publication informs policymakers, researchers, and advocates on the landscape of workers’ compensation programs in the United States. This is especially important today, as workers faced new health and safety risks because of the pandemic.”  

Key trends in this new report’s five-year study period remain consistent with reports from the past few years. Total benefits paid rose slightly (0.4%) to $63.0 billion over the five-year study period from 2015 to 2019, but benefits per $100 of covered wages (standardized benefits) fell by 15.2 percent, continuing a ten-year trend of declines. There are considerable cross-state differences within standardized benefits where only one state, Hawaii, saw an increase over the study period. Total employer costs for workers’ compensation in 2019 were $100.2 billion, and this was the first year since 2010 that unadjusted costs declined. Like benefits, standardized employer costs vary substantially across states from the 15.0% national-average decline over the study period. Meanwhile, coverage continued to increase, largely because the labor force has continued to expand. 

Regarding a methodological change in the 2019 data report, Frank Neuhauser, Researcher, Institute for the Study of Social Issues, University of California—Berkeley, stated the following: “Employers’ costs of workers’ compensation include more than just premiums to cover insurers’ cost of benefits, benefit delivery and underwriting, commissions and profit. Employers are also required to pay assessments to cover costs related to the operation of workers’ compensation. These costs fall into three primary areas: states’ administration of workers’ compensation systems, insurance and self-insurance guarantee funds, and special funds covering gaps in worker coverage. About half of states have insurers include these assessments in premiums. However, many states require employers to pay these assessments as a surcharge on their premiums. And some states have a hybrid of these assessment approaches. The Academy’s report is now capturing this important set of worker and employer protections more completely and more comparably across states.” 

Drawing on data from surveys of workers’ compensation agencies from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as from A.M. Best and the National Council on Compensation Insurance, this is the only report of its kind available free-of-charge for researchers and students, state and federal agencies, workers’ rights and employer advocates, and others. Certain source data are available upon request for a fee. Please contact Griffin Murphy, at gmurphy@nasi.org, or Jay Patel, at jpatel@nasi.org for more information. 

Since the National Academy of Social Insurance was founded in 1986, it has provided rigorous inquiry and insights into the functioning of our nation’s social insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, and Workers’ Compensation. Comprised of over 1,200 Members – the nation’s top experts in social insurance and related policies and programs – the Academy studies how social insurance may continue to meet the changing needs of American families, employees, and employers, including uninsured or underinsured economic risks. To learn more about the Academy’s work, please visit www.nasi.org, or follow @socialinsurance on Twitter. 

Attachments

  • Executive Summary – 2021 Workers’ Compensation Report – 2019 Data
  • 2021 Workers’ Compensation Report – 2019 Data
CONTACT: Griffin Murphy
National Academy of Social Insurance
202-243-7284
gmurphy@nasi.org

Les Boden
Boston University School of Public Health
617-358-2651
lboden@bu.edu

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