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Wet corn mills yield top pay among grain industries.

Wet corn milling had the highest pay levels of four grain mill industries, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of occupational pay. At $10.72 per hour, average earnings in wet corn mills in September 1982 were 25 percent higher than in flour mills ($8.59), 34 percent higher than in blended flour plants ($8.01), and 72 percent higher than in rice mills ($6.25). Nearly all workers in wet corn mills were located in metropolitan areas--chiefly within the Great Lakes States--in plants with 100 workers or more, and in establishments where collective bargaining agreements covered a majority of the workers. These characteristics, historically associated with higher pay levels, were found to a lesser extent in each of the other milling industries studied. Rice mill workers, for example, were concentrated in the Southwest, one of the lowest paying regions, and just under half of the workers were unionized.

The grain mill products industries covered by the survey employed just over 23,000 production workers in September 1982. Slightly more than one-third of the workers were employed in flour mills, approximately one-fourth each in wet corn mills and blended flour plants, and about one-sixth in rice mills.

Regional employment patterns varied considerably by industry. Flour milling, for example, the largest of the four industries with 8,115 production workers, was found in nearly all regions of the country. In contrast, slightly more than four-fifths of the 3,236 rice milling employees were in the southwest. Except for rice milling, the Great Lakes region was the major center of production; it accounted for nearly three-tenths of the production work force in flour milling, and for three-fifths of the workers in both the blended flour and wet corn milling industries.

Pay. Table 1 presents nationwide average pay rates for representative occupations in the grain milling industries. As with the industry averages, occupational pay levels were consistently highest in wet corn mills. This was true even where comparisons could be made within the same geographic region. In each industry, maintenance journeymen usually were the highest paid and custodial or general labor personnel, the lowest.

Nearly all workers in each industry were paid according to formal time-rated pay plans. Except in rice mills, where rate-range plans prevailed, most workers were paid single rates for specified occupations. Although single rate pay systems generally result in narrow earnings distributions, wide differences in pay scales among establishments produced a contrary effect in flour mills and blended flour plants. Blended flour plants had one of the highest wage dispersion indexes (57) among the industries in which the Bureau studies occupational pay. Wage dispersion indexes for the other grain milling industries were 13 for wet corn, 33 for flour, and 37 for rice.

Benefits. Virtually all production workers were in grain mills providing paid holidays and vacations after qualifying periods of service. The most common holiday provision in rice mills was 8 days; in wet corn mills, 10 days; and in flour mills and blended and prepared flour establishments, 12 days. Typical vacation provisions in each industry granted at least 1 week of paid time off after 1 year of service, at least 2 weeks after 3 years, and 3 weeks or more after 10 years. Vacation benefits were less generous in rice mills than in the other industries, particularly after longer periods of service.

All or virtually all production workers were in mills that provided at least part of the cost of hospitalization, surgical, basic medical, and major medical insurance coverage. Life insurance plans were available to at least nine-tenths of the workers in each industry. Accidental death and dismemberment insurance coverage was available to about half of the workers in blended flour plants, and to three-fourths or more of the workers in each of the remaining industries.

Retirement pension plans--other than Federal social security--applied to at least nine-tenths of the production workers in the flour, blended flour, and wet corn mill industries; the proportion was four-fifths in rice mills.

A COMPREHENSIVE REPORT on the survey findings, Industry Wage Survey: Grain Mill Products, September 1982, Bulletin 2207 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1984) is for sale ($3) by the Government Printing Office, or by any of the Bureau's regional offices.
COPYRIGHT 1984 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Nov 1, 1984
Previous Article:Incomplete experience rating in state unemployment insurance.
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