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About the Data

​​​About the Data
Benchmark Selections
Data and Methodology
Glossary of Terms​

About this Report

The 2021 California State Employee Total Compensation Report uses sala​ry and benefit data to compare the state's compensation packages with three different employer groups: Local Government, Private Sector, and Federal Government.​

The Bureau and the State of California's Employment Development Department (EDD) provided most of the labor market data in this report. Wage data from the Bureau and EDD were combined with benefit data from the Bureau and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to find the total compensation for local government, private sector, and federal government.

The State Controller's Office (SCO) provided the state employee wage and benefit data. CalHR staff combined and calculated the total compensation for each employer group. The table below summarizes the sources for wage and benefit data for each employer group, along with the page number in this report for additional details.​​

In addition to making statewide comparisons, this report compares state employee total compensation in five geographic regions: Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and all other counties.​

About the Data

The intent of this report is to use the best available data to compare the state’s total compensation costs with other employers in California.

This report does not define the appropriate level of compensation for state employees. 
Instead, this report compares how state workers are compensated, as a group, with other workers in the same occupation by measuring the employer’s costs for providing wages and common employee benefits.

This report also includes other information that can be used to evaluate the State of California’s ability to recruit and retain employees in these occupations, such as turnover and vacancy data.
Mapping of State Jobs
In 2011, CalHR staff began mapping the state civil service classific​​ations to detailed occupations as defined by the federal government’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. 
The table below provides an example of a six-digit SOC code.

​​​Accountants and Auditors ​​(13-2011)

Major ​Group

Minor Group

Broad Occupation
​Detailed Occupation

CalHR followed the federal government’s Coding Guidelines , which is summarized below:

  • ​A classification should be assigned to an SOC occupation code based on work performed.
  • When a classification could be coded in more than one occupation, it should be coded in the occupation that requires the highest level of skill. If there is no measurable difference in skill requirements, the classification should be coded in the occupation in which employees spend the most time.
  • Classifications performing activities not described in any distinct detailed occupation in the SOC structure should be coded in an appropriate ‘‘All Other’’ occupation.
  • Licensed and non-licensed workers performing the same work should be coded together in the same detailed occupation, except where specified otherwise in the SOC definition.

Benchmark Selections

In previous years, the state published salary surveys using “benchmark classifications” to measure compensation for each bargaining unit. With the publication of the 2013 California State Employee Total Compensation Report, CalHR began comparing “benchmark occupations,” because all Bureau wage and benefit data are reported by occupation. 

This report includes benchmark occupations from the following 12 bargaining units: 1.3,4,7,11,14,15,16,17,19,20, and 21

This report covers rank-and-file and related excluded classifications associated with the 12 bargaining units mapped to 43 detailed occupations categorized by SOC code. All classifications mapped to the same benchmark occupation are compared, as a group, to the wage and benefit data for the corresponding occupation. These comparisons include classifications from entry-level through journey-level, and in many occupations, related supervisors.

Benchmark Selection Criteria​

The benchmark occupations used in this report were selected using the following criteria:

  • State classification have duties consistent with SOC definitions
  • State classifications represent a significant portion of bargaining unit

Data and Methodology​

Wages + Benefits = Total Compensation

When the value of employee benefits is added to wages, it has a significant impact on the monthly total compensation costs for state employees. Using the same methodology for combining labor market data, CalHR added the value of state employee benefits to the state wage to find the total compensation for state workers. For more details, please read Methodology for Combining Benefit Percentages and Wages.

State Employee Wages

CalHR received wage data for state employees from the SCO. This report compares the monthly median wage for full-time workers as of March 2021. (The median is the number in the middle of a group. For example, if there are five wages listed in descending order, then the third salary would be the median wage.) To find the state median wage, all salaries paid to state workers, rank-and-file and related excluded, associated with the same bargaining unit and mapped to the same occupation were collected. The average “wage-related” pay differentials paid to state workers in the occupation were then added to the base salary for each state employee to calculate the wage per employee. 

Calculating State Employee Benefit Percentages

To calculate the percentage of benefits to wages for state workers, CalHR closely followed the methodology used for the NCS.

The benefits listed below are included in the NCS, which measures the employer’s average costs for wages and benefits. The state’s costs were collected from data provided by SCO for each bargaining unit separately, and then divided by the count of full-time employees to find an average annual benefit cost per employee. The average annual benefit cost was then divided by the average annual wage for that bargaining unit to find a “benefit percentage.” ​

Wages: The average base pay for each bargaining unit was collected. An average of the qualifying pay differentials was calculated, and then added to the average base pay to compute the average wage for each bargaining unit.

Supplemental Pay: This includes the employer’s costs for overtime pay, shift differentials (for example, holiday shifts, weekend shifts, non-regular shift pay differentials), and the remainder of premium pays that are not included in the wage.

This also includes the following Non-Production Bonuses:

  • Merit Award Program (Employee Suggestion Award, Employee Recognition Award, and 25-YearService Award)
  • Informal time off (ITO)
  • Flex Elect (cash in-lieu of benefits)
  • Recruitment and Retention bonuses
  • Longevity bonuses

Paid Leave: To find the employer’s cost for paid leave, all vacation/annual leave, holidays, and professional development days accrued are totaled. All sick leave used is then added to the total. This number is then multiplied by an hourly rate for paid leave.

Insurance: This includes the employer contribution for life insurance,  health insurance or consolidated benefits (CoBen), dental insurance, vision insurance, short-term disability insurance, long-term disability insurance, and administrative fees paid by the state for each plan.

Retirement and Savings: This includes the employer contribution towards retirement plans administered by the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS).

Legally Required Benefits: This includes the employer costs for Social Security, Medicare, state and federal unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation.

About the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey

According to the Bureau, the OES survey is the only comprehensive source of regularly produced occupational employment and wage rate information for the U.S. economy. The survey is published annually, covering full-time wage and salary workers in nonfarm industries. It does not include wages for the self-employed.
The OES program is a cooperative effort between the Bureau and State Workforce Agencies.  In California, the EDD is responsible for collecting local government and private sector wages. The Bureau collects federal employee wage data.
All wage data in the survey is categorized into occupations using the federal SOC system. Each occupation represents a wide range of wages, including entry through journey-level workers, and often first-level supervisors.
The survey is distributed to approximately 97,000 local government and private sector employers in California over a rolling three-year period. The Bureau updates any aged survey data using the ECI before combining it with current data.
The OES data in this report reflects wages for full-time workers in California as of March 2021. Private sector wages were filtered for large employers (500 or more employees) for all statewide and regional comparisons.

About the National Compensation Survey​

The NCS data are used in the following Bureau reports:

  • Employment Cost Index (ECI)
  • Employee Benefit Incidence and Provisions
  • Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC)
According to the Bureau, the NCS provides comprehensive measures of employee compensation, compensation cost trends, as well as the degree to which workers have access to — and participate in — employer-provided benefit plans. Bureau field economists collect and review the survey data from a national, statistically representative sample of private sector businesses, and state and local government agencies. The survey does not include federal government, agricultural, household workers, and workers who are self-employed.
The 2021​​ California State Employee Total Compensation Report uses data from the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC), which reports the average total compensation on an hourly basis for private sector and local government workers.

​Glossary of Terms

These definitions are used for the purposes of this report. Definitions originated from the Bureau, the EDD, or CalHR.

Annual Hours Worked -The Bureau calculates Annual Hours Worked as follows: add annual scheduled hours plus any overtime hours worked during the year, then subtract all vacation, holiday, and personal leave hours accrued as well as sick leave hours used during the year.

Annual Leave - Annual Leave is a consolidated leave plan. Consolidated leave plans provide a single amount of time off for workers to use for a number of purposes, such as vacation, illness, and personal business. Upon separation or retirement, state employees are compensated for any unused hours.

Annual Scheduled Hours -This is the total number of hours in a year that workers are scheduled to work. Most full-time workers are scheduled to work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, which equates to 2,080 annual scheduled hours.

Bargaining Units - A group of employees working in similar classifications or occupations represented by a union for bargaining purposes.

Base Salary - Wages paid for work performed during a unit of time, such as monthly. Base salary does not include overtime or incentive pay.

Bureau -The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is part of the Department of Labor and is the principal fact-finding agency for the federal government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics.

CB/ID - Collective Bargaining Identifier (CB/ID) refers to a three‐digit code that is assigned to each job classification. CB/ID designates if a classification is rank-and-file (R), managerial (M), supervisory (S), confidential (C), exempt/excluded (E), or unassigned (U); as well as the collective bargaining unit the classification is aligned to, if applicable. For example, CB/IDs for Bargaining Unit 1 and its related excluded employees look like this: R01, M01, and S01.

Defined Benefit Retirement Plan - A defined benefit retirement plan provides employees with guaranteed retirement benefits that are based on a benefit formula. A participant's retirement age, length of service, and pre-retirement earnings may affect the benefit received.

Defined Contribution Retirement Plan - A defined contribution retirement plan specifies the level of employer and employee contributions (retirement savings) and places those contributions into individual employee accounts. Retirement benefits are based on the level of contributions, plus earnings.

Disability Insurance - Disability insurance pays part of a worker's wages if he or she has to stop working because of a non-work-related illness or injury.

Employee Benefit Incidence and Provisions - The Bureau produces this report, which displays the percentage of workers with access to and participation in employer provided benefit plans (such as retirement, health care, life insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, and paid leave benefits).

ECEC - The Bureau produces the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC) report, which shows employer costs per hour worked for wages and individual benefits. Cost data are presented in both dollar amounts and as percentages of compensation.

ECI - The Bureau produces the Employment Cost Index (ECI), which is a measure of the change in the cost of labor. The series measures changes in compensation costs (wages and salaries and costs for employee benefits).

EDD - The Employment Development Department (EDD) administers the state's payroll tax program and offers a variety of services to Californians under the Job Service, Unemployment Insurance (UI), State Disability Insurance (SDI), Workforce Investment, and Labor Market Information programs.

Employee Merit Awards - There are four merit awards given to qualifying state employees in California. 1) Employee Suggestion Program (ESP) – Employees formally submit their ideas to reduce or eliminate state expenditures or improve the safety or the operation of the state. 2) Medal of Valor (MOV) – The highest honor California bestows upon its public servants. 3) Superior Accomplishment Award (SAA) – Departments may award employees for job performance resulting in exceptional contribution to improving state government. 4) The 25 Year/Retirement Service Award – Employees with 25 years of state service and retiring employees with 25 years or more of state service may receive a memento.

Flex Elect - The State of California's Flex Elect program offers two types of employee benefits: pre-tax reimbursement accounts for out-of-pocket medical and dependent care expenses, and cash-in-lieu of state-sponsored health and/or dental benefits for employees who have other qualifying group health coverage or other dental coverage.

Health Insurance Plan - Insurance plans that include coverage for one or more of the following: medical care, dental care, and vision care.

Holiday Bonus - Payment to employees as a holiday gift. For State of California employees, in 2021, the Governor granted employees four hours of paid Informal Time Off (ITO) leave to use on either Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve. ITO was calculated as a Holiday Bonus.

Holiday Leave - Holidays are days off from work on days of special religious, cultural, social, or patriotic significance on which work and business ordinarily cease.

Holiday Premium Pay - Payment for working a designated holiday; usually an add-on to a base rate.

Implicit Subsidy                - The implicit rate is an inherent subsidy of retiree healthcare costs by active employee healthcare costs when healthcare premiums paid by retirees and actives are the same.

Involuntary Separation - Involuntary separations include absent without leave (AWOL), death, dismissal, failure to meet employee conditions, termination with fault, illegal appointment, and resignation with fault.

Legally Required Benefits - Legally required benefits include the employer's costs for Social Security, Medicare, Federal and State unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation. Most peace officers, firefighters, and safety employees do not participate in Social Security.

Life Insurance - A contract that pays the beneficiary a set sum of money upon the death of the policyholder. These plans pay benefits usually in the form of a lump sum, but they may also be distributed as an annuity.

Longevity Pay - Payment to an employee based on seniority or length of service with an employer.​

Long-Term Disability - Provides a monthly benefit to employees who, due to a non-work-related injury or illness, are unable to perform the duties of their normal occupation or any other, for periods of time extending beyond their short-term disability or sickness or accident insurance.

Market Average - To calculate the “Market Average," CalHR multiplied the Bureau's estimated number of workers in an occupation for an employer group by its total compensation. Totals for the three employer groups were then summed, then divided by the total number of employees for all three groups to find the Market Average.

Mean - The mean is the arithmetic average of a group of numbers.

Median - The median is the midpoint of a group of numbers after sorting in ascending or descending order.

NCS - The National Compensation Survey is a detailed compensation survey conducted by the Bureau. The NCS produces three separate reports: the Employment Cost Index (ECI), the Employee Benefit Incidence and Provisions, and the Employer Costs for Employee Compensation (ECEC).

Occupation - A set of activities or tasks that employees are paid to perform. Employees that perform essentially the same tasks are in the same occupation, whether or not they work in the same industry. Some occupations are concentrated in a few particular industries; other occupations are found in many industries.

OES - The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey is an annual labor market survey of private sector, local, state and federal government wages.  The survey is conducted jointly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and State Workforce Agencies, such as the California Employment Development Department.

 OPEB - Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) are benefits other than pensions received in retirement. OPEB generally takes the form of health insurance and dental, vision, prescription, or other healthcare benefits provided to eligible retirees, including, in some cases, their beneficiaries. It may also include some types of life insurance, legal services, and other benefits.

OPM - The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is the federal government's chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager, directing human resources policy; administering retirement, healthcare, and insurance programs; and providing oversight of merit-based and inclusive hiring into the federal government's civil service.

Overtime Pay - Payment over and above the employee's regular pay for working in excess of a specified number of hours per day or per week.

Paid Leave - Leave from work (or pay in lieu of time off) provided on an annual basis and normally taken in blocks of days or weeks by an employee. Vacation, sick and holiday paid leave are the most common.

Personal Leave - Personal leave is a general-purpose leave benefit, used for reasons important to the individual employee, but not otherwise provided by other forms of leave. Some employers place restrictions on the purposes for which personal leave may be used. State employees receive Professional Development Days (PDD) which fall into this category.

Private Sector - The private sector is comprised of for-profit and not-for-profit businesses and organizations. By contrast, the public sector is made up of government employers.

Retirement Plans - Includes defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution retirement plans.

Related Excluded - Employees in classifications that do not have collective bargaining rights under the Ralph C. Dills Act, but whose job duties are related to rank-and-file employees in a bargaining unit. These employees are generally designated managerial, confidential, exempt, or supervisory.

Retirement Rate - The retirement rate is calculated by dividing the count of all service and disability retirements for the year by the annual average number of employees.

Shift Differential - Payment over and above an employee's regular pay for working a nonstandard shift, typically evenings, nights, and weekends.

Sick Leave -Employer-paid time off offered to employees to compensate for time away from work while sick or injured.

Short-Term Disability - Provides short-term (typically 26 weeks) income protection to employees who are unable to work due to a non-work-related accident or illness.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system is a list of defined occupations maintained by the federal government's Office of Management and Budget. It has been adopted by federal statistical agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for the purpose of collecting, calculating, or disseminating data. The 2018 SOC system contains 867 detailed occupations. 

State Classification - A defined state job. The State of California maintains definitions and salaries for approximately 2,800 civil service classifications.

Supplemental Pay - Supplemental pay includes overtime and premium pay for work in addition to the regular work schedule (such as weekends and holidays), shift differentials, and nonproduction bonuses (such as referral bonuses and lump-sum payments provided in lieu of wage increases).

Turnover Rate -The turnover rate is calculated by dividing the count of all voluntary and involuntary separations, and retirements for the year by the annual average number of employees.

Unemployment Insurance - A joint federal-state program, established in 1935 under the Social Security Act, under which state administered funds obtained through payroll taxes provide payments to eligible unemployed persons.

Vacancy Rate - The vacancy rate is the average vacancy rate for the calendar year. To calculate the vacancy rate, full-time equivalent vacant positions are divided by established full‐time equivalent positions. (Employees hired into blanket positions are not included. Blanket positions are intended to be used for temporary, seasonal, or intermittent workload.)

Vacation Leave - Time off from work normally taken in days or weeks that provide employees with a rest or break from work. The amount of time-off may vary based on an employee's length-of-service with the employer or it may be a fixed number of days or weeks.

Value of Paid Leave - Vacation, annual leave, holiday, and other employer paid leave hours accrued (and assumed used) are added to sick leave hours used during the year. This number is multiplied by an hourly rate for paid leave to find the annual cost to the employer.

Voluntary Separation Rate - The voluntary separation rate is calculated by dividing the count of all voluntary separations (not including retirements) for the year by the annual average number of employees.

Wage – OES - A wage includes commission, tips, deadheading pay, guaranteed pay, on‐call pay, hazard pay, incentive pay, piece rate, portal‐to‐portal pay, production bonuses, and cost‐of‐living allowances.

Wage – NCS - A wage includes commission, tips, deadheading pay, guaranteed pay, on‐call pay, hazard pay, incentive pay, piece rate, portal‐to‐portal pay, production bonuses, and cost‐of‐living allowances.

Same as above only longevity and recruitment and retention bonuses are not included in the wage.

Weekend Premium Pay -Payment over and above an employee's regular pay for working on a Saturday, Sunday, or other non-scheduled workday.

Workers' Compensation - Workers' compensation provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment. This is a legally required benefit paid by the employer.

  Updated: 1/4/2023
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