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Profiles of Occupational Pay: A Chartbook
__________________________
U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics
1979
Bulletin 2037

331.22
ULSP




£ 0 3 y ___________________________________________________

Chart 13. Distribution of areas by average establishment size

Office workers
Number of areas

Highpaying
areas
Lowpaying
areas

Maintenance and unskilled plant workers

Highpaying
areas
Lowpaying
areas




Average establishment size:

Under 190

190 to 280

280 or more


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Unionization is more common in high-paying areas

Unionization tends to raise pay levels. Workers in
high-paying areas are more unionized than in low-paying
ones. This is true for both office and plant workers,
although the degree of unionization among plant workers is
much greater.

Chart 14. Distribution of areas by extent of labor-management
contract coverage

Office workers
Number of areas

Highpaying
areas

11

Lowpaying
areas

8

Percent of office workers unionized:

Under 8

8 to 15

: 15 or more

Maintenance and unskilled plant workers

Highpaying
areas
Lowpaying
areas




Percent of plant workers unionized:

Under 45

45 to 80

80 or more

31

Wage variation among areas is not associated with the relative presence
or absence of manufacturing activity. . .


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Chart 15. Distribution of areas by relative importance of manufacturing employment

Office workers
Number of areas

Highpaying
areas
Lowpaying
areas

Maintenance and unskilled plant workers




Under 40

40 to 60

60 or more

33




. but is associated with the kind of manufacturing industry in an area

High-paying areas typically have a significant proportion of
their manufacturing work force in high-paying industries;
low-paying areas usually reflect more the presence of lowpaying manufacturing.
Both kinds of manufacturing industry are present in
virtually every area. Examples of high- and low-paying areas
are shown below, along with measures of the relative
importance of manufacturing in these areas and of the
dominant kind of manufacturing industry:
Percent of total
employment in
manufacturing

Mix of
manufacturing
in d u stry1

High-paying areas:

Toledo . . .
Davenport

61
66

30
13

Low-paying areas:

Greenville
Providence

77
66

-4 9
-3 2

1 Employment in 5 high-paying manufacturing industries minus employment in 6 lowpaying manufacturing industries as a percent of total manufacturing employment.

Chart 16. Distribution of areas by relative importance of highor low-paying manufacturing

Office workers
Number of areas

Highpaying
areas
5

2

Lowpaying
areas

8

Maintenance and unskilled plant workers

Highpaying
areas
Lowpaying
areas




Percent of manufacturing employment:

High- minus
low-paying
manufacturing =
+ 16% or more

\\\\\\\v High- minus
low-paying
manufacturing =
+ 4 to 16%

| High- minus
j low-paying
manufacturing =
+ 3 to-50%


36


Part III. Profiles of High- and Low-Paying Manufacturing Industries

Manufacturing industries employ 3 in every 10 of the
Nation’s private nonfarm workers. The following charts
portray some characteristics of high- and low-paying
manufacturing industries. The industries, part of the
Bureau’s industry wage survey program, represent nearly all
kinds of manufacturing activity.
In selecting industries for the following analysis, hourly
earnings for production and related workers in 40
manufacturing industries were compared to the average for
ail manufacturing in 1977. High-paying industries are those
in which hourly earnings were at least 10 percent above the
average; low-paying industries are those in which earnings
were at least 10 percent below the average.
Fourteen industries are in the high-paying group and 18 are
in the low-paying group in the following charts, except for
charts 18, 22, and 25, for which some data were not
available.

Chart 17. Pay relationships for production and related workers among 40 manufacturing
industries, 1977

(All-manufacturing average = 100)
Basic iron and steel
Petroleum refining
Motor vehicles
Industrial chemicals
Motor vehicle parts
Cigarettes
Shipbuilding
Prepared meat
Iron and steel foundries
Pulp, paper, paperboard
Glass containers
Meat packing
Flour milling
Machinery
Fabricated steel
Synthetic fibers
Paints and varnishes
Glass (except containers)
Fertilizer
Nonferrous foundries
Fluid milk
Corrugated boxes
Leather tanning
Candy
Men’s suits
Structural clay
Plastics
Women’s suits
Textile dyeing
Cotton and synthetic textiles
Wool textiles
Women’s dresses
Furniture
Hosiery, except women’s
Women’s hosiery
Footwear
Cigars
Men’s trousers
Work clothing
Men’s shirts




37


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Capital intensity is lower in low-paying industries

Capital intensity, measured by the book value of an
industry’s plant and equipment assets per production
worker, is typically low in low-paying industries, especially
in apparel manufacturing. The ratio of capital to labor is
high, in contrast, in some industries associated with “ high
pay” factors such as high skill requirements and greater
opportunities for productivity advance. It was highest by far
in the petrochemical industries and also well above the
all-manufacturing average in basic iron and steel, flour
milling, and papermaking.

Chart 18. Distribution of manufacturing industries by capital-to-labor ratio

High-paying industries

Low-paying industries

1

Book value per production worker:

1 More than p
... ■ $45,000
■




"1 Between $15,000 [

J and $45,000

1 Less than
1 $15,000

Between $15,000 [
and $45,000
L

Less than
$15,000

Although not typical of most industries, concentration of shipments in a few
large firms is more common in high-paying than in low-paying industries


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

A concentrated industry has been defined as one in which
four firms account for half or more of the value of
shipments. Few industries studied met this criterion, but,
of those that did, four were high paying—cigarettes, glass
containers, motor vehicles, and motor vehicle parts. Only
one low-paying industry—cigars—fell within the definition
Four low-paying industries—plastics, wood furniture,
women’s dresses, and women’s suits—were characterized
by the presence of numerous small firms, as was one
high-paying industry—prepared meats.

Chart 19. Distribution of manufacturing industries by extent of shipments
concentrated in large firms

High-paying industries

Low-paying industries
1

Concentration ratios: Percent of shipments of 4 largest firms—

50 or more




1 16 to 50

15 or less

□

50 or more

□

16 to 50

□


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Large plants are more typical of high-paying industries

In half of the high-paying industries, the average plant has
at least 250 workers; in only one low-paying industry—
cotton and synthetic textiles—is the average plant as large.
However, small plants are typical in the high-paying flour
milling and prepared meat products industries.
Earnings in large establishments in an industry are higher,
on average, than in small ones.

Chart 20. Distribution of manufacturing industries by average plant size




High-paying industries

Low-paying industries

250 or more

| 50 to 250

Under 50

43




Unionized workers are predominant in high-paying industries
but are in the minority in most low-paying ones
All but one high-paying industry—machinery—are at least
three-fourths unionized; in contrast, only two low-paying
industries—men’s and women’s suits and coats—are as
heavily organized. Most low-paying industries, in fact, are
primarily nonunion.
Within each industry, workers in plants in which a majority
are covered by collective bargaining agreements have a
wage advantage over those who work in primarily nonunion
plants. The size of this differential varies greatly and is
larger in some low-paying industries than in high-paying
ones.

Chart 21. Distribution of manufacturing industries by extent of labor-management
contract coverage




High-paying industries

Low-paying industries

75 or more

50 to 75

Under 50

Most workers in high-paying industries are located in metropolitan areas
while a majority in many low-paying industries work in smaller communities


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

In all but one high-paying industry—paper—the work force
is predominantly located in metropolitan areas; most
workers in low-paying industries are in smaller
communities, often in the South.
In most industries, plants located in metropolitan areas
have higher pay levels than those in smaller communities.

Chart 22. Distribution of manufacturing industries by extent of location
in metropolitan areas

High-paying industries

Low-paying industries

1

Percent of workers in metropolitan areas:

75 or more M M 50 to 75




Under 50

75 or more

50 to 75

] Under 50

47

Low-paying industries have a much larger proportion of their work force
in the South than do high-paying industries




Low-paying industries commonly employ a majority of their
workers in the South; most high-paying industries employ
less than one-fourth of their workers in southern plants.
Textiles and apparel dominate in the low-paying industries
primarily located in southern areas. Among the high-paying
group, only the cigarette and industrial chemical industries
typically are located in the South.
Within the same industry, workers in the South usually
have lower earnings than workers elsewhere.

Chart 23. Distribution of manufacturing industries by extent of location in the South

High-paying industries

Low-paying industries

Percent of workers in southern plants:

50 or more H H H 25 to 50




Under 25

50 or more

25 to 50

Under 25

49


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Incentive pay systems are more prevalent in low-paying industries

Piecework, bonus, and other incentive pay systems apply
to a majority of workers in nearly half of the low-paying
industries. Only in basic steel are such pay plans
predominant in the high-paying group. Low-paying,
incentive-oriented industries are highly labor intensive.
(See chart 18.)
Although “ incentive industries” are typically low-paying,
incentive-paid workers usually earn more than their
time-rated counterparts, regardless of industry.

Chart 24. Distribution of manufacturing industries by incidence of
incentive pay systems







The range of employee earnings is wider in low-paying than in
high-paying industries
The earnings spread typically is highest in low-paying
industries, where incentive pay systems prevail. In
high-paying industries the spread is narrower primarily
because single rates for an occupation— negotiated
companywide or even industrywide, as in motor vehicles—
are common.
Other factors that influence earnings dispersion in an
industry are the ways workers are distributed among
regions and occupational groups.

Chart 25. Distribution of manufacturing industries by relative dispersion of earnings

High-paying industries

Low-paying industries

Percent of median earnings:

High
dispersion
(middle range
= 30% or more)




Medium
dispersion
(middle range
= 20-30%)

| Low
J dispersion
(middle range
= under 20%)

□

High
dispersion
(middle range
= 30% or more)

Medium
dispersion
(middle range
= 20-30%)

53


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Women are a much larger proportion of the production work force
in low-paying industries
Women usually make up a majority of the production
workers in low-paying manufacturing industries but less
than 15 percent in the high-paying group. Exceptions are
leather tanning and structural clay products—two
low-paying industries in which women constitute only
one-fourth of the production work force.

Chart 26. Distribution of manufacturing industries by proportion of women
production workers




High-paying industries

50 or more

] 15 to 50

|

| Under 15

Relatively few industries have significant proportions of workers at or near
the Federal minimum wage




In the mid-1970’s, none of the high-paying industries had
even 5 percent of their workers at or near the minimum
wage, and only one-third of the low-paying industries had
10 percent or more at or near the minimum.
Even in shirt manufacturing—the lowest paying industry
studied—the proportion of workers within 5 cents of the $2
minimum in 1974 (27 percent) was much less than the
proportion near the $1.25 minimum 10 years earlier (40
percent).

Chart 27. Distribution of manufacturing industries by worker attachment to the
Federal minimum wage, mid-1970’s

High-paying industries

Low-paying industries

14

Percent of workers at or near Federal m inim um :

|

| Under 5




10 or more

5 to 10

Under 5

Appendix A. BLS Occupational Wage Surveys

Four major types of surveys are conducted currently in the Bureau of
Labor Statistics Office of Wages and Industrial Relations to provide
information on straight-time earnings by occupation:
(1) Industry wage surveys in selected manufacturing and
nonmanufacturing industries covering occupations peculiar to a
particular industry; (2) area wage surveys in selected metropolitan
areas (and, on a more limited scope, nonmetropolitan areas)
covering occupations common to a broad spectrum of private
industries; (3) a national survey of professional, administrative,
technical, and clerical pay in private industry; and (4) municipal
government wage surveys in large cities. Although differing in
industrial, geographic, and occupational coverage, these surveys
form an integrated program on occupational wages. A detailed
description of these surveys is included in BLS Handbook of
Methods, Bulletin 1910, chapters 19 and 20, and BLS Measures of
Compensation, Bulletin 1941, chapters 2 and 3.

Scope of surveys
The scope of BLS occupational wage surveys as it relates to data
depicted in this chartbook is summarized below.
Industrial scope. The four types of surveys taken together cover at
least part of every industry division, except agriculture, forestry, and
fishing. Major exclusions of area wage surveys—construction,
government, and mining—are covered either by the industry surveys
or by the municipal government surveys.
Geographic scope. Nationwide surveys are conducted for virtually
all industries in manufacturing (with selected regional and area
detail) and for the professional, administrative, technical, and
clerical pay study. Area wage surveys are conducted in 70 Standard
Metropolitan Statistical Areas selected on a probability basis to
represent all such areas. Industry wage surveys limited to the union




sector are carried out in 60 to 70 cities with at least 100,000
inhabitants. These cities also are selected on a probability basis to
represent all cities of that size. Municipal government wage surveys
are limited to the 26 U.S. cities with at least 500,000 inhabitants,
with the addition of Atlanta.
Minimum establishment size. To obtain appropriate accuracy at
minimum cost, most BLS occupational wage surveys establish a
minimum employment size for establishments to be within the
scope of the study. In area wage surveys, establishments employing
fewer than 50 workers are generally excluded (fewer than 100
workers in some large areas); for the white-collar salary survey, the
minimum ranges from 100 to 250 depending on the industry
division. Most industry wage surveys exclude establishments with
fewer than 20 workers. No minimums are applicable to union and
municipal wage surveys.

Establishment characteristics
Pay levels and pay relationships can be associated with many
establishment characteristics, some significant and some marginal
determinants of wage variation. Parts II and III highlight some of the
most common of these—e.g. area and establishment employment
size, establishment location, and the extent of unionization within
an area or industry—covered by BLS occupational wage surveys.
Nationwide industry wage surveys in manufacturing usually develop
separate estimates by these characteristics, as well as by others
such as type of product and/or process.

Wage and salary measures
The Bureau’s occupational wage surveys summarize a highly
specific measure—the rate of pay for individual workers, excluding
premiums for overtime and for work on weekends, holidays, and late

shifts. Collecting data on individual workers permits the publication
of the full earnings distribution and/or measures of central
tendency, e.g. median and middle range, as illustrated in several
charts in parts I and III. Union wage studies, unlike the other BLS
occupational wage surveys, measure only the basic (minimum) wage
rates found in labor-management agreements; they do not include
individual worker earnings that may exceed /hese minimums.

Analytical approaches
A profile of wage-determining characteristics was developed in parts
II and III for groupings of representative high- and low-paying areas
and industries. Areas were selected, for example, based on their
relative pay position for office workers and plant workers. High- or
low-paying areas are those falling in the highest or lowest quartiles
for (a) clerical and electronic data processing occupations and (b)
maintenance and unskilled plant occupations. Earnings
distributions were used in parts I and III to illustrate wage dispersion
by occupation and industry as well as to focus on groups of workers
at the lower end of the earnings array. Details on the preparation of
individual charts are available upon request.

Sources
All except the following charts are based on data from the
occupational wage survey program: Charts 1 and 3, Office of




Current Employment Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics; chart 2,
Division of General Compensation Structures, Bureau of Labor
Statistics; chart 17, Office of Employment Structure and Trends,
Bureau of Labor Statistics; charts 18 and 19, Bureau of the Census.

Uses
Bureau data are often used by public agencies concerned with wage
policy. These data also are used extensively in the private sector in
connection with wage and salary determinations by employers or in
the collective bargaining process. To the extent that wages are a
factor, survey data also are considered by employers in locating new
facilities and in estimating costs. Occupational counselors often
use information on relative pay levels and trends in connection with
career guidance.
Occupational wage surveys are not designed to supply mechanical
answers to questions of pay policy. The applicability of survey
results depends upon the selection and definition of industries, the
geographic units for which estimates are developed, the
occupations and associated items studied, and the reference dates
of particular surveys. Depending upon specific needs, users may
find it necessary to interpolate for occupations, industries, or areas
not covered by the surveys.

Appendix B. Selected Bibliography— Monthly Labor Review Articles
on Occupational Wage Structures
Baldwin, Stephen E., and Robert S. Daski. “ Occupational Pay
Differences Among Metropolitan Areas,” May 1976, pp.29-35.
Blackmore, Donald. “ Occupational Wage Relationships in Metro­
politan Areas,” December 1968, pp. 29-36.
Brown, Gary D. “ Discrimination and Pay Disparities Between White
Men and Women,” March 1978, pp. 17-22.
Buckley, John E. “ Intraoccupational Wage Dispersion in
Metropolitan Areas,” September 1969, pp. 24-29.
_______________ “ Pay Differences Between Men and Women in
the Same Job,” November 1971, pp. 36-40.
Cox, John H. “Time and Incentive Pay Practices in Urban Areas,”
December 1971, pp. 53-56.
David, Lily Mary, and Toivo P. Kanninen. “Workers’ Wage in Con­
struction and Maintenance,” January 1968, pp. 46-49.
Douty, H.M. “Wage Differentials: Forces and Counterforces,”
March 1968, pp. 74-81.
Field, Charles, and Richard L. Keller, “ How Salaries of Large Cities
Compare With Industry and Federal Pay,” November
1976, pp. 23-28.
Gavett, Thomas W., and Arthur Sackley. “ Blue-Collar/White-Collar
Pay Trends: Analysis of Occupational Wage Differences,” June
1971, pp. 5-12.
Houff, James N. “ Area Wages and Living Costs,” March 1969, pp.
43-46.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Kanninen, Toivo P. “ Coverage of Union Contracts in Metropolitan
Areas,” July 1962, pp. 747-50.
Mason, Sandra L. “ Comparing Union and Nonunion Wages in
Manufacturing,” May 1971, pp. 20-26.
Mobley, Thomas C. “ Use of BLS Survey Data in Wage Setting at
GPO,” April 1970, pp. 66-68.
Nilsen, Sigurd R. “ HowOccupational Mix Inflates Regional Pay
Differentials,” February 1978, pp. 45-49.
Ober, Harry. “ Occupational Wage Differentials, 1907-1947,” August
1948, pp. 127-34.
Perloff, Stephen H. “Comparing Municipal Salaries with Industry
and Federal Pay,” October 1971, pp. 46-50.
Rose, Arthur. “Wage Differentials in the Building Trades,” October
1969, pp. 14-17.
Schwenk, Albert, “ Earnings Differences in Machinery Manufacturing,”
July 1974, pp. 38-47.
_______________and Martin E. Personick. “ Analyzing Earnings
Differentials in Industry Wage Surveys,” June 1974, pp. 56-59.
Stelluto, George L. “ Report on Incentive Pay in Manufacturing
Industries,” July 1969, pp. 49-53.
_____________ “ Federal Pay Comparability: Facts to Temper The
Debate,” June 1979, pp. 18-28.
Zoltek, Robin, “ Sharp Rise in 1978 White-Collar Pay Characterized
by Wide Variations,” November 1978, pp. 37-39.

☆

U .S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : 1 9 7 9 - 0 - 3 0 5 - 7 8 2

Bureau of Labor Statistics Regional Offices

Region I

1603 JFK Federal Building
Government Center
Boston, Mass. 02203
Phone: (617)223-6761
Region II

Suite 3400
1515 Broadway
New York, N.Y. 10036
Phone: (212)944-3121




Region III

3535 Market Street
P.O. Box 13309
Philadelphia, Pa. 19101
Phone: (215)596-1154
Region IV

1371 Peachtree Street, NE.
Atlanta, Ga. 30309
Phone: (404)881-4418

Region V

9th Floor
Federal Office Building
230 S. Dearborn Street
Chicago, III. 60604
Phone: (312)353-1880
Region VI

Second Floor
555 Griffin Square Building
Dallas, Tex. 75202
Phone: (214) 767-6971

Regions VII and VIM*

911 Walnut Street
Kansas City, Mo. 64106
Phone: (816)374-2481
Regions IX and X**

450 Golden Gate Avenue
Box 36017
San Francisco, Calif. 94102
Phone: (415) 556-4678
* Regions VII and VIII are serviced by Kansas City
* * Regions IX and X are serviced by San Francisco

Material in this publication is in the public domain and may be
reproduced without permission of the Federal Government. Please
credit the Bureau of Labor Statistics and cite Profiles of
Occupational Pay: A Chartbook, Bulletin 2037.




Profiles of Occupational Pay: A Chartbook
S. Department of Labor
ay Marshall, Secretary
jreau of Labor Statistics
met L. Norwood, Commissioner
jcember 1979
illetin 2037




If
LSA-SP




For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402
Stock Number 029-001-02415-1

Preface

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has systematically collected
wage data by occupation since the turn of the c e n tu ry first by industry, then across industry lines by metropolitan
area, and most recently across industry lines on a
nationwide basis. As the most comprehensive source of
current information on earnings in particular occupations,
this body of data has played an important role in clarifying
public policy issues concerned with wages and in
expediting labor-management negotiations.
This chartbook draws upon the wage survey programs of
the Bureau and other data to illuminate some of the factors
that affect workers’ earnings. Part I looks at pay relation­
ships within major occupational groups. Part II profiles
some characteristics of high- and low-paying metropolitan
areas covered by the Area Wage Survey program. Part III
portrays some characteristics of high- and low-paying
manufacturing industries that are part of the Industry Wage
Survey program.
This chartbook was developed by Martin E. Personick of the
Office of Wages and Industrial Relations, Division of
Occupational Wage Structures, under the direction of
George L. Stelluto, Assistant Commissioner, and Charles
M. O’Connor, Division Chief. John H. Cox and Sandra L.
King of the Division provided valuable assistance.







Contents
Page
Part I . An overview of occupational pay

...................................................................................................................

1

Occupational distribution of employed persons, 1978 .........................................................
Components of compensation of employees in private
nonfarm establishments, 1977.............................................................................................
Chart 3. Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage
and salary workers by occupational group, May 1978.........................................................
Chart 4. Salary ranges of chemists and engineers in private
industry, March 1978............................................................................................................
Chart 5. Earnings in maintenance craft occupations, July 1977.........................................................
Chart 6. Average union wage rates for journeymen as a percent
of rates for helpers and laborers, building construction,
1907-78 .................................................................................................................................
Chart 7. Industry pay ranges in production worker occupations,
April-September 1976 ............................
Chart 8. Earnings distributions for chemical operators and
helpers in industrial chemicals establishments,
Chicago metropolitan area, June 1976 ................................................................................
Chart 9. Percent of women and men production workers
earning less than their industry average, 1974-76 ...............................................................
Chart 10. Areas with highest and lowest pay relatives for
four occupational groups in private industry, 1976 .............................................................

3

Chart 1.
Chart 2.




5
7
9
11

13
15

17
19
21

Part II. Profiles of high-and low-paying metropolitan a re a s ..................................................................................

22

Distribution of areas by:
Chart 11.
Chart 12.
Chart 13.
Chart 14.
Chart 15.
Chart 16.

Census region.........................................................................................................................
Size of area employment........................................................................................................
Average establishment s iz e ..................................................................................................
Extent of labor-management contract coverage ..................................................................
Relative importance of manufacturing employment.............................................................
Relative importance of high- or low-payingmanufacturing...................................................

25
27
29
31
33
35

Part III. Profiles of high- and low-paying manufacturing in dustries......................................................................

36

Chart 17. Pay relationships for production and related workers among 40
manufacturing industries, 1977 .........................................................................................

37

Distribution of manufacturing industries by:
Chart 18. Capital-to-labor ra tio ..............................................................................................................
Chart 19. Extent of shipments concentrated in large firm s ..................................................................
Chart 20. Average plant s iz e .................................................................................................................
Chart 21. Extent of labor-management contract coverage ..................................................................
Chart 22. Extent of location in metropolitan areas............ .................................................................
Chart 23. Extent of location in the South..............................................................................................
Chart 24. Incidence of incentive pay systems.......................................................................................
Chart 25. Relative dispersion of earnings.............................................................................................
Chart 26. Proportion of women production workers ............................................................................
Chart 27. Worker attachment to the Federal minimum w a g e ..............................................................

39
41
43
45
47
49
51
53
55
57

Appendixes:

A. BLS occupational wage surveys ......................................................................................................
B. Selected bibliography — Monthly Labor Review articles on
occupational wage structure s......................................................................................................




58
60

Part I . An Overview of Occupational Pay

Change is characteristic of American workers, who may
change jobs, skills, locations, and even occupations
several times over the course of their work lives. Yet some
patterns are discernible within this ever-changing labor
force that are highlighted in the following charts. Based on
data gathered by BLS on the earnings of different groups of
workers, the charts provide a panoramic view of the
Nation’s work force. They illustrate wage variation among
and within occupations and suggest some of the factors
that directly influence pay levels and pay structure.




1




Workers are customarily grouped into four broad occupational
categories — white-collar, blue-collar, service, and farm
White-collar workers make up half of all employed persons;
blue-collar workers, one-third; and service workers, most
of the remainder. Within these broad categories are workers
with a diversity of occupations and skills.
Employed persons,
1978
[in thousands]

T o t a l.....................................................................

94,373

White-collar workers...........................................

47,205

Professional and technical w o rk e rs...............
Managers and adm inistrators.........................
Sales workers .......................................
Clerical workers...............................................

14,245
10,105
5,951
16,904

Blue-collar workers.............................................

31,531

. Craft and kindred workers ...............................
Operatives, except transport...........................
Transport equipment operatives.....................
Nonfarm laborers ............................................

12,386
10,875
3,541
4,729

Service workers...................................................

12,839

Private household workers .............................
Service workers, except private household . . .

1,162
11,677

Farm workers.......................................................

2,798

Chart 1. Occupational distribution of employed persons, 1978





4


Most workers receive a variety of benefits in addition
to pay for time worked
Benefits such as paid vacations and holidays, health
insurance, and retirement programs have become an
important part of workers’ compensation. But pay for time
worked still accounts for 3 of every 4 payroll dollars
employers spend.

Chart 2. Components of compensation of employees in private nonfarm
establishments, 1977

White-collar
employees1

Blue-collar and
service employees1

3.4%

------------ Other2 --------------

2 .0 %

14.1%

— Health, insurance, and —
retirement benefits

14.9%

6.7%

—
Vacation and holiday p a y -

5.6%

—

77.5%

75.8%

Pay for time worked —

1 Retail sales workers are included with blue-collar and service employees in this chart.
^Includes unemployment benefits, savings and thrift plans, and nonproduction bonuses.





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6
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Major occupational groups exhibit wide differences in pay levels

Usual weekly earnings of professional and technical
workers were about double those of service workers and
two-thirds higher than clerical workers’ earnings in May
1978. Moreover, large disparities in pay existed between
occupations that are part of the same group:
Median usual weekly
earnings, May 1978

Professional and technical workers...............

$294

Engineers.......................................................
Engineering and science technicians...........

431
271

Service workers, except private household ..

152

Protective service workers.............................
Cleaning service workers..............................

254
156

Chart 3. Median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary
workers by occupational group, May 1978

White-collar

Blue-collar

Service

Farm




7

Within an occupation are workers whose jobs differ in complexity and
responsibility and whose pay varies accordingly




In white-collar occupations, median salaries of workers in
the highest work levels are several times as high as those in
entry or developmental positions of the same occupation.
The latter usually require less training, embody simpler job
functions, and carry little or no supervisory responsibility.
Although they may be at equivalent work levels, workers in
different occupations, such as engineers and chemists,
may find the pay advantage shifting as they move up the
ladder:
Median monthly salary,
March 1978

Engineer I ................................................. $1,316
Chemist I ................................................. 1,135
Engineer IV .............................................. 1,983
Chemist I V ............................................... 1,942
EngineerVIII ............................................ 3,450
Chemist V III.............................................. 3,859

Chart 4. Salary ranges of chemists and engineers in private industry,
March 1978

Monthly salary
0

$500

$1,000

$1,500

$2,000

$2,500

$3,000

$3,500

Chemist I
II - IV
V
VI
VII
VIII

Engineer I - -

IV-V -VI - VII - VIII - Note: Salary ranges shown exclude top and bottom 10 percent of workers in each work level. Work levels are as defined
in the National Survey of Professional, Administrative, Technical, and Clerical Pay.




$4,000

$4,500

$5,000




Maintenance craft workers have a fairly homogeneous pay structure

As is true in every occupation, there is a range of earnings
within each of the highly skilled maintenance craft jobs.
The range is generally narrower, however, than for other
groups, largely because pay rates in these occupations are
commonly set by labor-management agreements at a single
rate for a journeyman worker. Earnings are also less
dispersed because maintenance craft workers are
concentrated in large firms—those with the greatest
demand for workers with specialized skills.

Chart 5. Earnings in maintenance craft occupations, July 1977

Hourly earnings
$5.00

$5. 50

$6. 00

$6. 50

$7. 00

V [Joi i i . 1
-/ul
O

$7. 50

$8. 50

$8. 00

i

1

i

Electricians—

Median

i
1

M achinists—

Mechanics
(machinery)
Mechanics
(automotive)

i
1

i

1

i
1

M illw rights—
Tool-and-die
makers
Note : Salary ranges shown exclude top and bol tom 10 percen t of workers ir each occupat on.




i
1

$9. 30

$9.50


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12
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The wage advantage of skilled over unskilled workers has narrowed
substantially since the turn of the century
Skilled craft workers generally have not maintained their
earlier substantial pay advantage over unskilled workers.
Uniform cents-per-hour increases to unionized journeymen
and helpers and laborers in construction, for example, con­
tributed to a steady narrowing of the difference in wage
rates over several decades. By the mid-1960’s, this dif­
ferential stabilized at about one-third. A similar trend
occurred in manufacturing during the first half of the
century.

Annual average
percent increase

Chart 6. Average union wage rates for journeymen as a percent of rates for helpers
and laborers, building construction, 1907-78







The industry in which a job is located may be a more important
influence on pay than the occupation itself
Unskilled jobs invariably are at the bottom of the pay
structure in an industry. Yet they may pay more than jobs
that are higher in the pay structure in other industries.
Janitors in petroleum refining, for example, are paid more,
on average, than workers in the most skilled production
occupations of the men’s suit industry.

Chart 7. Industry pay ranges in production worker occupations,
April - September 1976

Average
hourly earnings

Petroleum
refining




Industrial
chemicals

Cigarettes

Shipbuilding

Men’s suits

Textile
dyeing

Hosiery,
except women’s

Women’s
hosiery

15




Earnings of individuals in the same job may vary greatly

Length of employee service and differing pay scales among
establishments are two of the factors leading to differences
in pay for workers doing the same job. For these same
reasons, workers in different jobs, one skilled and the other
unskilled—as in the example shown—may have similar
earnings.

Chart 8. Earnings distributions for chemical operators and helpers in industrial
chemicals establishments, Chicago metropolitan area, June 1976

Percent of workers




17

Most women earn less than the average for the industry in which they work,
even in high-paying manufacturing industries


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18
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

As is true for some other groups of workers, women do not
necessarily reap the benefits of being employed in a
high-paying manufacturing industry. A large majority of
women earned less than the industry average in four such
industries studied by BLS. In the glass container industry,
where women made up one-third of the production work
force, only 3 percent of the women earned above the
average, compared to 46 percent of the men. This primarily
reflects the way men and women were distributed among
occupations.

Chart 9. Percent of women and men production workers earning less
than their industry average, 1974-76

Percent




1975

1974

1974

19


0


Broad wage differences exist among metropolitan areas

Location is an important factor in pay levels for most
groups of workers. This is especially true of unskilled
workers, whose pay is strongly affected by local labor
market forces. Among 70 metropolitan areas studied by
BLS in 1976, Saginaw, Michigan, reported pay for unskilled
plant workers at 41 percent above the average for all
metropolitan areas; San Antonio, Texas, in contrast, was
33 percent below that average.

Chart 10. Areas with highest and lowest pay relatives for four occupational
groups in private industry, 1976

Office clerical workers
Al l-metropol itan-area
average = 100
140




Electronic data processing workers
Al l-metropol itan-area
Average = 100
140

Skilled maintenance workers

Unskilled plant workers
140
120 —
100 —
80 —
60 —
40

San Francisco

Greenville, S.C.

Saginaw

San Antonio

21



22
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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Part II. Profiles of High- and Low-paying Metropolitan Areas

Metropolitan areas are the hub of most economic a c tiv ity labor markets within which 2 of every 3 of the Nation’s
workers reside. This section depicts some characteristics
of high- and low-paying urban areas that help explain their
relative pay levels.
The areas profiled in the following charts are part of the
Bureau’s annual wage survey program, which covers 70
areas representative of the Nation’s 262 mainland
metropolitan areas. These surveys coverall manufacturing
industries but exclude from the nonmanufacturing sector
agriculture, mining, construction, and government. The
year of reference is 1976.
High- and low-paying areas are shown on the adjoining
page for two broad occupational groups: (1) Office
workers, referring to clerical and electronic data processing
personnel; and (2) maintenance and unskilled plant workers.
The methodology for selecting areas by pay level appears
in appendix A.

Office workers

Maintenance and unskilled plant workers

High-paying areas

Low-paying areas

High-paying areas

Low-paying areas

Anaheim-Santa AnaGarden Grove
Atlanta
Chicago
Detroit
Los Angeles-Long Beach
Newark
New York
San Francisco-Oakland
San Jose
Seattle-Everett

Chattanooga
Greenvi 1e-Spartan bu rg
1
Jackson (Miss.)
Memphis
New Orleans
Oklahoma City
Richmond
San Antonio

Buffalo
Chicago
Cleveland
Davenport-Rock IslandMoline
Dayton
Detroit
Kansas City
Milwaukee
Minneapolis-St. Paul
Portland (Oreg.-Wash.)
Sacramento
San Francisco-Oakland
San Jose
Seattle-Everett
Toledo

Greenvi 1e-Spartan burg
1
Huntsville
Jackson (Miss.)
Miami
Norfolk-Virginia BeachPortsmouth
Oklahoma City
Providence-WarwickPawtucket




23


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>4
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Regional location is a factor in pay differences among labor markets

High-paying metropolitan areas are predominantly in the
North Central region and the West; low-paying areas are
typically in the South. However, two large Southern areas—
Atlanta and Washington—are among the high-paying areas
for office workers.

Chart 11. Distribution of areas by Census region

Office workers
Number of areas

Highpaying
areas
Lowpaying
areas

Maintenance and unskilled plant workers

Highpaying
areas
Lowpaying
areas




Areas located in:

Northeast

North Central

South

West


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>6
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

High-paying areas commonly are larger labor markets

Large areas are often associated with high pay levels that
may compensate in part for higher living and commuting
costs. Half of the high-paying areas studied, for example,
were large labor markets. Low-paying areas, however, were
of medium size; the number of workers usually fell within
the 100,000 -500,000 range.

Chart 12. Distribution of areas by size of area employment

Office workers

Highpaying
areas
Lowpaying
areas

Maintenance and unskilled plant workers

Highpaying
areas
Lowpaying
areas




Area employment:

Under
100,000

53 100,000 to
500,000

500,000
or more




Large establishment size is more closely associated with
high pay for office workers than for plant workers
Large establishments have long been thought to have high
pay levels. The evidence, however, is not conclusive—often
holding only for certain industries or groups of workers. In
just over half of the high-paying areas for office workers
and one-third of those for plant workers, establishments
were above average in size. Small establishment size
characterized about half of the low-paying areas for both
plant and office workers.