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Occupational pay in structural clay products industries.

Occupational pay in structural clay products industries

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics wage survey, hourly earnings of production workers in structural clay products industries averaged $7.41 in October 1986, up from $5.86 in September 1980..sup.1 This represents an increase of 4.0 percent, on an annual average basis, and compares with an increase of 5.2 percent a year in the Bureau's Employment Cost Index for durable goods manufacturing industries.

Average hourly earnings in October 1986 varied considerably among the seven regions for which separate data are available, ranging from $6.24 in the Southwest to $9.43 in the Middle West. In the Southeast, where three-fourths of the industries' work force were employed, hourly earnings averaged $6.64. Averages in the other four regions were $7.16 in the Border States; $7.94 in the Pacific States; $8.21 in the Middle Atlantic; and $8.35 in the Great Lakes.

Among the major product branches studied separately, nationwide hourly averages were $9.80 in clay refractories, $7.20 in ceramic wall and floor tile, and $6.78 in brick and structural clay tile. Although clay refractories maintained its lead in earnings, the pay difference between it and the relatively low-paying brick and structural clay tile branch narrowed between 1980 and 1986-from 57 to 45 percent.

Pay levels were influenced by regional location and industrial concentration. For example, one-half of the workers in the Southwest and three-fifths of those in the Southeast, the two lowest paying regions in the Nation, were in brick and structural clay tile plants. However, slightly less than three-fifths of the Middle West work force-the highest paid among the regions-worked in clay refractory plants.

Employment change Overall, production employment in structural clay products manufacturing fell by 10 percent between September 1980 and October 1986-from 26,288 to 23,535 workers. Work force changes at the branch level varied considerably. For example, employment declined by 50 percent in clay refractories (from 6,340 to 3,414 workers). But the number of workers in brick and structural clay tile plants changed relatively little (from 11,687 in 1980 to 11,593 in 1986).

The employment decline in clay refractories was accompanied by a 13-percent drop in shipments of refractories between 1981 and 1985..sup.2 These declines are attributable, in part, to a drop in orders from the steel industry, a major purchaser of refractories. However, shipments for brick and structural clay products rose by 83 percent over the same period because of the construction industry's strong demand for brick and tile,

Occupational averages. Of the 31 occupations studied separately, industrywide averages were lowest for janitors ($6.60 hourly) and off-bearers ($6.62) and highest for electricians ($10.31) and machinists ($10.32). Powertruck operators, the largest job group studied separately, averaged $7.28.

Occupational averages were usually highest in clay refractory plants and lowest in brick and structural clay tile plants (table 1). Clay refractory workers usually earned between 25 and 45 percent more than workers in the same occupation in brick and clay tile plants.

Nationwide, about four-fifths of the workers were paid on a time-rated basis, typically under formal plans providing single rates for specific jobs. Workers paid incentive wages typically averaged between 20 and 40 percent more than their time-rated counterparts. Jobs predominantly paid on this basis included unloaders of tunnel kilns, brick sorters, die pressers, and kiln setters and drawers.

Virtually all workers were in establishments providing paid holidays and vacations, Workers typically received between 6 and 10 holidays per year. Nationwide, typical vacation provisions included 1 week after 1 year of service, 2 weeks after 3 years, 3 weeks or more after 10 years, and at least 4 weeks after 20 years.

Almost all clay workers were in establishments providing at least part of the cost of life, hospitalization, surgical, medical, and major medical insurance. Also, most received accidental death and dismemberment insurance and protection against temporary loss of income due to illness or accident. Retirement plans were provided to the majority of the workers.

Just more than one-half of the work force were employed in plants operating under labor-management contracts covering a majority of production workers. The Middle Atlantic and Middle West regions recorded the highest proportion (75 percent) of workers in union plants, while the Southwest recorded the smallest proportion (25 percent). The Aluminum, Brick, and Glass Workers International Union and the United Steelworkers of America (both AFL-CIO affiliates) were the major unions in the clay products industries.

Also studied in the current survey was the use of temporary help and the extent to which services were contracted out. One-eighth of the production workers were in structural clay products plants regularly using temporary help. Plants employing nearly 60 percent of the clay industries' production force commonly contracted trucking services.

A comprehensive report, Industry Wage Survey: Structural Clay Products, October 1986 (Bulletin 2288), may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, or from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Publications Sales Center, P.O. Box 2145, Chicago, IL 60690. The bulletin provides additional information on occupational pay and employee benefits by region and size of establishment.
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Author:Bergman, Bruce J.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:May 1, 1988
Words:866
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