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Midwest Employers Struggle to Match Other U.S. Regional Companies Benefits Spend on Workers. 

In an effort to attract talent, companies based in the West and Northeast, U.S. outspend Midwest employers on labor benefits.  This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) who reported that Midwest companies spend almost 20% less on employee benefits than their counterparts in the Northeast and Western, U.S.  

Nationally, employee benefits and perks have been a hot topic for management and HR departments since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Work/life balance rethinking by workers has driven business leaders to assess what can be offered to employees besides higher-pay.  

Chart 1. Employer costs per employee hour worked by region, private industry, September 2021

For years Western and Northeast, U.S. employers have outpaced the Midwest on wages.  However, cost-of-living and high-demand talent industries (such as technology) based in the West are the reasons for high-paying jobs in those communities.  According to the BLS, Western U.S. companies spend more than $5.00 per hour per employee than Midwest employers.        

All major indexes have experienced record highs in recent years and companies as a whole pass on rising costs of doing business to the customer (consumer and B2B).  The challenging business climate brought on by the pandemic coupled with inflation has not crippled the health of stable American companies.  

Employees would question the health conclusion, who in Q3 and Q4 quit their jobs in record numbers.  Therefore, what is the missing piece that worker’s want the most from their employers?  HR directors report there is a gap between what workers want and what employers are giving, both from compensation offered to how work productivity is measured. 
A Citrix study of workers ranging evenly from the enterprise to SMB size, concluded overwhelmly that 88% of those surveyed want flexibility. Specifically, where they can work (location) and how productivity is measured, such as favoring business outcomes more than the work hours placed on a project. The gap is 69% of people and culture leaders signal their company is prioritizing work spent over outcomes.