In one of the ironies of so-called "right-sizing," as payrolls decline, workers' compensation costs rise. With fewer employees, companies must pay more to cover the liability, which is suddenly spread thinner.

That and other reasons is behind an almost nationwide rise in workers' compensation rates. Rates are usually determined by size of the workforce covered, multiplied by a state-approved rate, but other factors can weigh in as well. But other factors, such as market competition, employer size and policy structure influence the actual premium amount paid by an individual insurance buyer.

Not all states are seeing increases, and Alabama leads the nation with a projected 9.3 percent decrease.