The cost for employers’ workers’ compensation coverage increased at a greater pace than the benefits paid out to workers in 2003, continuing a hardening trend that began in 2000, according to a new study.

Total workers’ comp payments for injured workers in 2003, the latest year for which data is available, rose to $54.9 billion, an increase of 3.2 percent, while employer costs rose by 9.6 percent to $80.8 billion, the National Academy of Social Insurance reported.

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