Workers' compensation trends

In its annual report regarding workers' compensation insurance, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) reports that though employers' costs for workers' compensation rose 7 percent between 2003 and 2004, the increase was less than it was between 2002 and 2003, which was 9.6 percent. The smaller percentage increase could be attributed to the fact that the workers' compensation insurance industry posted profits in 2003 for the first time since 2000. The profitability continued in 2004.

The 7 percent increase in employers' costs in 2004 translates to about 3 cents more per $100 of covered wages. From 2000-04, employer costs per $100 of payroll rose 46 cents from $1.30 in 2000 to $1.76 in 2004.

The study also reports other trends in workers' compensation. For example, the report indicates employees who attribute injuries to their jobs are more likely to receive disability insurance from the Social Security Administration than they are to ever receive workers' compensation insurance.

In 2004, about 125.9 million workers were covered by workers' compensation insurance, an increase of 0.9 percent from 2003. Employee coverage in 2004 was less than the peak reached in 2000, and the increase in covered wages in 2004 was less than increases during most of the 1990s. NASI believes these trends reflect conditions in the overall economy.

Some trends regarding states emerged in the study, as well. According to NASI, 76 percent of workers were covered by workers' compensation insurance in Texas, down from 84 percent in 2001. (Providing workers' compensation insurance in Texas is voluntary.) In all other states except Massachusetts and Michigan, which suffered statewide declines in employment, the number of covered workers increased.

With regard to actual injuries reported, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reports 5,764 fatal work injuries occurred during 2004, a 3.4 percent increase from 2003. Transportation-related accidents led the causes of fatalities at 45 percent followed by violent acts, falls, and contact with objects and equipment at 18 percent, 15 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

DOL reports 4.3 million nonfatal injuries occurred in 2004, but DOL says many of these injuries did not result in lost workdays—only 1.3 million of the 4.3 million nonfatal injuries required time away from work.

For a copy of the survey, log on to NASI's Web site at or call (202) 452-8097.


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