Wages alone do not paint a complete picture of compensation in the meat and poultry industry. Companies offer a variety of benefits, which are not accounted for in hourly wage data.

In a 2006 survey of American Meat Institute members, 97 percent of responding plants indicated that they provide health insurance coverage, among other benefits. This compares to the national average of 63 percent of private establishments offering health insurance.

In addition to providing health insurance, many companies share some of the costs of coverage with their employees. Seventy-four percent of responding plants said the company pays more than half the cost of coverage. Thirteen percent said the employer pays more than 90 percent of premiums and 10 percent stated that the employer covers 100 percent of premiums.

Other key findings from the survey included:

  • 96 percent of responding plants offered pension, 401(k) or other retirement investment plans.
  • 92 percent of responding plants offer additional insurance, such as life and short- and long-term disability.
  • 75 percent of responding plants offered educational assistance, such as classes or tuition reimbursement.
  • 55 percent of responding plants manage a scholarship program.
  • 52 percent of responding plants offered wellness programs. According to a 2003 Employee Benefit Research Institute survey, 23 percent of employees had access to wellness programs, putting the meat and poultry industry above average.
  • 29 percent of responding plants offered English as a Second Language (ESL) classes.

The cost of these benefits, according to one-third of responding plants represents 30 to 39 percent of wages. An additional third of responding plants stated that the cost of benefits represents 20 to 29 percent of wages.

Nineteen percent of responding plants offer their employees benefits without a waiting period; 50 percent require a waiting period of three to six months and 21 percent of responding plants provide benefits after six months of employment.

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