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Weekly earnings in 1983: a look at more than 200 occupations.

Weekly earnings in 1983: a look at more than 200 occupations

Information on the weekly earnings of wage and salary workers by their demographic, social, and economic characteristics has been collected for the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Bureau of the Census since 1967. These data are collected through the Current Population Survey. In 1979, BLS expanded the data collection from an annual to a monthly basis and began publishing weekly earnings of workers and their families on a quarterly basis. 1 Weekly earnings by extensive occupational detail were first published in March 1982. 2

This report presents 1983 annual average weekly earnings of wage and salary workers (both men and women) who usually work full time (excluding the "incorporated selfemployed') in more than 200 occupations, according to the classification system developed for the 1980 Census of Population. 3 Because this system is markedly different from the 1970 census system, these data are not comparable to those available for 1979-82. This incomparability arises from four changes introduced in January 1983. First, there was an expansion in the number of occupations identified, in many cases resulting from the splitting of former groupings or cutting back of "not elsewhere classified' categories. Second, the major occupation groups have new titles representing conceptual as well as language changes. Third, many components in the former groups have been shifted among the new groupings. For example, cashiers formerly shown under the category "clerical and kindred workers' now appear under "sales occupations.' Finally, many of the detailed categories, even those with identical titles, differ significantly in content. For instance, in the new system, economists account for only about 75 percent of those who would have been in this category under the 1970 classification. Of the remaining 25 percent, about half are now classified as management analysts and the oter half as accountants and auditors. 4

A refinement in the method of calculating median earnings also affects the comparability of the 1983 numbers with those for earlier years. Previously, medians were calculated by using the linear interpolation of $50- to $100-wide intervals. The new, more accurate method uses $10 intervals. As in previous years, the data shown are limited to those occupations with at least 50,000 employed wage and salary workers who usually work full time.

The U.S. Bureau of the Census classifies occupations at three levels of detail. The one-digit level is the least detailed, consisting of only the major occupational groups, such as the professional specialty of service worker groups. The 45 two-digit occupations represent an intermediate level of detail --for example, engineers, and personal service workers. 5 The three-digit classification is the most detailed. It includes such specific job titles as physicians, economists, and chemical engineers, all of which are in the broad, one-digit professional specialty group, and automobile mechanics and carpenters, which are in the precision production, craft, and repair group.

Table 1 shows weekly earnings in some 220 nonoverlapping occupational groupings, mostly at the three-digit level. Obviously, the medians vary greatly among these occupations. For example, wage and salary workers among four engineering specialties, as well as economists, lawyers, and operations and systems researchers and analysts had weekly medians of $600 or more in 1983--about twice the overall median of $309. By comparison, private household workers and those employed in food counter, fountain, and related occupations had medians below $150 a week. Male-female comparisons are shown for some 75 occupations.

Within each of the occupations, there is likely to be a wide range of earnings among individual workers. This is because each occupational group--even at the three-digit level--still has many individual jobs for which data are not tallied separately. Included under physicians, for example, are nearly 100 individual specific job titles, ranging from interns to neurosurgeons. Hence, each occupation encompasses specialties with differences in skill levels, market demand for the jobs, and other variables. Also, workers in each specialty may have different duties, responsibilities, workweeks, and job tenure.

Caution must be used in interpreting these data because estimates are based on a sample, rather than the entire population. For example, median weekly earnings for the 51,000 women employed in the "managers, medicine and health' category was $435; at the 90-percent confidence interval (1.6 standard errors), the median could range from $396 to $474. At the other extreme, the $258 median for the 12.7 million workers in administrative support occupations could range from $257 to $259. For all workers, the range also was $2. For information on calculating the standard error and other limitations of the data, see Technical Description of the Quarterly Data on Weekly Earnings from the Current Population Survey, Bulletin 2113 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1982).

1 The information appears in the series of press releases entitled, "Earnings of Workers and Their Families,' and in Employment and Earnings. For information on the nationwide sample survey from which these earnings data were obtained, see Earl F. Mellor, Technical Description of the Quarterly Data on Weekly Earnings from the Current Population Survey, Bulletin 2113 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1982).

2 Data for 1981 appear in "1981 Weekly Earnings of Men and Women Compared in 100 Occupations' (News Release, Mar. 7, 1982) and in Nancy F. Rytina, "Earnings of men and women: a look at specific occupations,' Monthly Labor Review, April 1982, pp. 25-31. For 1982 data, see Earl F. Mellor, "Investigating the differences in weekly earnings of women and men,' Monthly Labor Review, June 1984, pp. 17-28.

3 This system evolved from the Standard Occupational Classification System, which was adopted in 1977 and revised in 1980. See Standard Occupational Classification Manual (U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards, 1980).

4 See Gloria Peterson Green and others, "Revisions in the Current Population Survey Beginning in January 1983,' Employment and Earnings, February 1983, pp. 7-15.

5 For additional information, see Census of Population: 1980, Classified Index of Industries and Occupations, Report PHC80-R4, final ed. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1983).

Table: Weekly earnings of wage and salary workers who usually work full time in occupations employing 50,000 or more, by sex, 1983 averages
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Author:Mellor, Earl F.
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Jan 1, 1985
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