Occupational Pay Relatives news release text

Technical Contact:                                        USDL: 08-1015
      (202) 691-6199  NCSinfo@bls.gov
Media Contact:                                            FOR RELEASE:  10:00 AM EDT
      (202) 691-5902                                      FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2008
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     Average pay in the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA metropolitan area was 19 percent
above the national average in 2007, the highest among metropolitan areas studied by the
National Compensation Survey (NCS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of
Labor reported today.  In contrast, pay was lowest in the Brownsville-Harlingen, TX metropolitan
area with a pay relative of 76, meaning Brownsville workers earned an average of 76 cents for
every dollar earned by workers nationwide.  Using data from the NCS, pay relatives--a means of
assessing pay differences--are available for each of the 9 major occupational groups within
77 metropolitan areas, as well as averaged across all occupations for each area. (See table 1.)

     Pay relatives calculated for all occupations were significantly different from the
national average in 67 of the 77 areas.  Table A below lists higher and lower paying metropolitan
areas among those studied in the NCS.  Table B provides higher paying metropolitan area for
each of nine major occupational groups.  In addition, area-to-area comparisons have been
calculated for all 77 metropolitan areas and will soon be available on the BLS website at

Table A.  Metropolitan area pay relative rankings (of 77 metropolitan areas surveyed)

 Rank                     Metropolitan Area                           Pay Relative
    1.           San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA                       119
    2.           New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA                  115
    3.           Salinas, CA                                              114
    4.           Hartford-West Hartford-Willimantic, CT                   113
    5.           Boston-Worcester-Manchester, MA-NH                       112

   75.           Corpus Christi, TX                                        87
   76.           Johnstown, PA                                             85
   77.           Brownsville-Harlingen, TX                                 76

     A pay relative is a calculation of pay--wages, salaries, commissions, and production
bonuses--for a given metropolitan area relative to the nation as a whole.  The calculation
controls for differences among areas in occupational composition, establishment and occupational
characteristics, and the fact that data are collected for areas at different times during
the year.  Simple pay comparisons calculating the ratio of the average pay for an area versus
the entire United States in percentage terms would not control for interarea differences in
occupational composition and other factors, which may have a significant effect on pay relatives.
More information on pay relative controls and calculations is available in the Technical Note.

Table B.  Metropolitan area pay relative rankings for nine major occupational groups (of 77 metropolitan areas surveyed)

    Major Occupational Group            Rank and Metropolitan Area                       Pay Relative
Management, business, and         1.  New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA                 115
financial                         2.  Salinas, CA                                             114

Professional and related          1.  Salinas, CA                                             120
                                  2.  San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA                      118

Service                           1.  San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA                      124
                                  2.  Hartford-West Hartford-Willimantic, CT                  121

Sales and related                 1.  Salinas, CA                                             128
                                  2.  San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA                      124

Office and administrative         1.  San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA                      121
support                           2.  Boston-Worchester-Manchester, MA-NH                     115
                                  2.  New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA                 115

Construction and extraction       1.  New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA                 133
                                  2.  Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City, IL-IN-WI              131

Installation, maintenance,        1.  Boston-Worcester-Manchester, MA-NH                      115
and repair                        1.  Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Truckee, CA-NV                  115

Production                        1.  Detroit-Warren-Flint, MI                                117
                                  1.  Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia, WA                              117

Transportation and material       1.  Springfield, MA                                         113
moving                            2.  Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia, WA                              112

     The pay relative for construction and extraction occupations in the New York-Newark-Bridgeport
area was 133, meaning the pay in the New York metropolitan area for that occupational group
averaged 33 percent more than the national average pay for that occupational group.  By contrast,
the pay relative for workers in construction and extraction in the Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas
area was 66, meaning pay for workers in those occupations averaged 34 percent less than the
national average.

Using pay relative data

     To assist data users in analyzing these data, tests have been conducted to determine
whether differences between each pay relative and the pay relative for the nation as a whole are
statistically significant (that is, the pay for the given occupation in that area is too different
from the national average to be accounted for by the survey sample).  Similar tests are conducted
for the area-to-area comparisons.  In Table 1, statistically significant pay relatives are
denoted with an asterisk (*).  More information on significance testing is available in the
Technical Note.

     Yearly differences in area and occupational group differences in pay relatives do not infer
changes in underlying economic conditions.

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Last Modified Date: July 25, 2008