Best and worst industries for benefits in 2014

Marine Cole

If you agree with the majority of Americans who say that having benefits at work, such as health care insurance, is essential to job satisfaction in 2014 – maybe you should look for a career in manufacturing.

That's because the manufacturing industry has the highest percentage of companies offering basic benefits to employees according to the 2014 Workforces Report, recently released by Aflac.

The report compared benefit offerings among six private sector industries: manufacturing, education, retail, technology, financial services, and health care. It asked companies in these sectors whether they offered specific benefits to employees, including major medical coverage, dental insurance, life insurance, vision insurance and disability insurance.

Yin Yang | Getty Images

After manufacturing, the health care sector came in second place, followed by education and financial services companies. The worst sector when it came to benefits offerings is retail, Aflac found – with the cautionary note here that Aflac interviewed both full-time and part-time employees, and retail has almost always had more part-time workers than the other industries listed here.

Across the six industries, 77 percent of employees said benefits are extremely or very important to their job satisfaction, while 63 percent said they're extremely or very important to work productivity. Sixty-three percent of those interviewed also said – interestingly enough – that they'd be likely to accept jobs with lower pay if the benefits were good.

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Here's a breakdown of the best and worst industries for specific benefits:

Medical Insurance

Analyzing benefits of health insurance

Best: manufacturing; 87 percent of companies offer it

Worst: retail; 70 percent of companies offer it

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Dental Insurance

Best: manufacturing and health care; 83 percent of companies in these industries offer it

Worst: retail; 67 percent of companies offer it

Life Insurance

Best: manufacturing and health care; 74 percent of companies in each industry offer it

Worst: retail; 51 percent of companies offer it

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Vision Insurance

Best: financial services; 73 percent of companies offer it

Worst: retail; 57 percent of companies offer it

Disability Insurance

Best: manufacturing; 71 percent of companies offer it
Worst: retail; 47 percent of companies offer it

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Aflac based its report on feedback from 1,856 benefits decision-makers and 5,209 employees at small, medium and large companies in these six industries.

Generally speaking, large companies with more than 500 employees were more likely to offer benefits than medium and small companies, except for major medical insurance. Eighty-nine percent of medium-sized companies (those with 100 to 499 employees) offer medical insurance, compared with 86 percent of large companies.

By Marine Cole, The Fiscal Times