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Earnings and Benefits - Earnings

weekly hours earned income

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The federal government measures both the mean earnings (average) of the nation's workers and the median earnings (one-half earn more than this figure, and one-half earn less than this figure) of the nation's workers. Income is the total amount brought in by an individual or family, including earnings and money received from interest, pensions, and other sources.

According to census data collected from the 2004 American Community Survey (http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/acs-01.pdf), the mean earnings for the total working population aged sixteen years and older was $32,976. For men, Asians had the highest median income in 2004 ($46,888), followed by whites ($42,707), blacks ($32,686), and those of Hispanic ethnicity ($26,749). The pattern for women was similar: Asians ($36,137), whites ($32,034), blacks ($28,581), and those of Hispanic origin ($24,030).

Full-Time, Year-Round Workers

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey, 2004 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032004/perinc/new05_001.htm), of the 152 million men and women aged fifteen years and older who reported working in 2003 (with or without earnings), 66.3% (121.2 million) worked full-time, year-round. Men aged fifteen years and older who worked full-time in 2003 earned a median income (half earned more and half earned less) of $40,668, a figure that was unchanged from 2002. Women in the same age group earned a median income of $30,724, which was 75.5% of men's income and lower by 0.6% than women's median income in 2002. In other words, women earned seventy-six cents for every dollar earned by men in 2003. Average earnings, a slightly different measure, for men aged eighteen years and older, who worked full-time, year-round in 2003 were $53,039, according to the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006–07 Edition. For women aged eighteen and older who worked full time year round, average earnings in 2003 were $37,197, or 70% of men's earnings.

According to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau (http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/p36ar.html), the median earnings of men aged fifteen and over working full-time, year-round, when converted to year 2004 dollars, have ranged very little for more than three decades, from $41,238 in 1972, to a low of $39,855 in 1994, to $41,667 in 2004. Women's earnings, on the other hand, have substantially increased when converted to year 2004 dollars, from the equivalent of $23,687 in 1972, to $27,930 in 1987, to $32,101 in 2004.

During 2003 and 2004, overall median household incomes were nearly $44,500. Married couple households had a higher median income ($64,082 in 2003, $63,813 in 2004) than nonfamily households ($26,433 in 2003, $26,176 in 2004). (See Table 6.1.) Asian households had the highest median income, rising from $57,196 in 2003 to $57,518 in 2004, according to the U.S. Census Bureau in http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/h05.html). White households saw a slight decline from $46,857 in 2003 to $46,697 in 2004, as did African-American households, with median incomes of $30,442 in 2003 and $30,134 in 2004. The median income of Hispanic households increased slightly, from $33,884 in 2003 to $34,241 in 2004.

Production or Nonsupervisory Earnings

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2004 production or nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls worked an average of 33.7 hours per week and earned a mean salary of $15.67 per hour. Preliminary data from 2005 are 33.8 hours per week and $16.11 per hour. (See Table 6.2.)

Hourly salaries varied by industry in 2004. Those employed in professional and business service occupations TABLE 6.1 Income and earnings by selected characteristics, 2003 and 2004 Adapted from Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, and Cheryl Hill Lee, "Table 1. Income and Earnings Summary Measures by Selected Characteristics: 2003 and 2004," in "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004," in Current Population Reports, U.S. Census Bureau, August 2005, http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf (accessed January 10, 2006)worked an average of 34.2 hours at an hourly wage of $17.46. People employed in the private service-providing industry sector worked an average of 32.3 hours and earned less than the overall average—$15.26 per hour. Those in leisure and hospitality worked fewer hours per week (25.7) and earned only $8.91 per hour, well below the mean. Natural resources and mining workers and construction workers earned more than the total average earnings, bringing in $18.08 and $19.23 per hour, respectively. Workers in both categories also worked longer hours per week than the overall average (44.5 hours per week for natural resources and mining, and 38.3 for construction). (See Table 6.2.)

TABLE 6.1
Income and earnings by selected characteristics, 2003 and 2004
[Income in 2004 dollars. Households and people as of March of the following year]
Characteristic 2003 2004 Preal median income (2004 less 2003)
Number (thousands) Median income (dollars) Number(thousands) Median income (dollars)
Value Value Estimate
*Zero or rounds to zero.
SOURCE: Adapted from Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, and Cheryl Hill Lee, "Table 1. Income and Earnings Summary Measures by Selected Characteristics: 2003 and 2004," in "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2004," in Current Population Reports, U.S. Census Bureau, August 2005, http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf (accessed January 10, 2006)
Households
All households 112,000 44,482 113,146 44,389 −0.2
Type of household
Family households 76,217 55,442 77,010 55,327 −0.2
    Married-couple 57,719 64,082 58,109 63,813 −0.4
    Female householder, no husband present 13,781 30,095 14,009 29,826 −0.9
    Male householder, no wife present 4,717 43,087 4,893 44,923 4.3
Nonfamily households 35,783 26,433 36,136 26,176 −1.0
    Female householder 19,647 21,886 19,792 21,797 −0.4
    Male householder 16,136 32,786 16,344 31,967 −2.5
Age of householder
Under 65 years 88,951 51,519 90,012 50,923 −1.2
    15 to 24 years 6,610 27,780 6,686 27,586 −0.7
    25 to 34 years 19,159 45,982 19,255 45,485 −1.1
    35 to 44 years 23,222 56,523 23,226 56,785 0.5
    45 to 54 years 23,137 61,861 23,370 61,111 −1.2
    55 to 64 years 16,824 50,538 17,476 50,400 −0.3
65 years and older 23,048 24,426 23,135 24,509 0.3
Nativity of the householder
Native 97,840 45,539 98,681 45,319 −0.5
Foreign born 14,159 38,507 14,466 39,421 2.4
    Naturalized citizen 6,567 47,287 6,731 46,233 −2.2
    Not a citizen 7,592 33,688 7,735 34,497 2.4
Region
Northeast 21,017 47,988 21,137 47,994 *
Midwest 25,643 45,934 25,911 44,657 −2.8
South 40,742 40,893 41,159 40,773 −0.3
West 24,598 48,078 24,939 47,680 −0.8
Earnings of full-time, year-round workers
Men with earnings 58,772 41,761 60,093 40,798 −2.3
Women with earnings 41,908 31,550 42,307 31,223 −1.0

Occupations

In 2005 full-time wage and salary workers earned a median of $651 per week. Engineering managers ($1,788), lawyers ($1,609), pharmacists ($1,557), physicians ($1,547), and computer and information systems managers ($1,428) were among those with the highest median weekly salaries. Computer software engineers ($1,401), aircraft pilots and flight engineers ($1,366), aerospace engineers ($1,362), and mechanical engineers ($1,262), were also well paid in 2005 as were environmental scientists and geoscientists ($1,217). At the other end of the spectrum, telemarketers ($367), sewing machine operators ($360), cashiers ($336), cooks ($336), service station attendants ($323), food preparation workers ($321), and cafeteria, concession, and coffee shop counter attendants ($292), made among the lowest median weekly earnings. (See Table 6.3.)

Those working in managerial and professional specialties and in precision production, craft, and repair TABLE 6.2 Average hours and earnings of production or nonsupervisory workersa on private nonfarm payrolls by major industry sector, selected years, 1964–2005tended to earn the highest salaries in 2005. However, within each occupational grouping, many categories earned significantly more or less than the median wage. Among managerial occupations, chief executives had the highest weekly wages ($1,834), while lodging managers ($647) and food service managers ($651) earned the least. (See Table 6.3.)

TABLE 6.2
Average hours and earnings of production or nonsupervisory workersa on private nonfarm payrolls by major industry sector, selected years, 1964–2005
Year Total private Goods-producing Natural resources and mining Construction
Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings
Annual averages
1964 38.5 $2.53 $97.41 40.3 $2.53 $101.96 43.4  $2.76 $119.78 37.7 $3.08 $116.12
1974 36.4 4.43 161.25 39.6  4.69  185.72 43.7   5.09  222.43 37.1 6.29 233.36
1984 35.1 8.48 297.65 40.3  9.67  389.70 44.6  11.54  514.68 38.2 11.56 441.59
1994 34.5 11.32 390.73 41.1 12.63  519.58 45.3  14.41  653.14 38.8 14.38 558.53
2000 34.3 14.00 480.41 40.7 15.27  621.86 44.4  16.55  734.92 39.2 17.48 685.78
2001 34.0 14.53 493.20 39.9 15.78  630.04 44.6  17.00  757.92 38.7 18.00 695.89
2002 33.9 14.95 506.07 39.9 16.33  651.61 43.2  17.19  741.97 38.4 18.52 711.82
2003 33.7 15.35 517.30 39.8 16.80  669.13 43.6  17.56  765.94 38.4 18.95 726.83
2004 33.7 15.67 528.56 40.0 17.19  688.03 44.5  18.08  804.03 38.3 19.23 735.70
2005b 33.8 16.11 543.86 40.1 17.60  705.38 45.6  18.73  854.42 38.6 19.48 751.56
Year Manufacturing Durable goods Nondurable goods
Weekly hours Hourly earnings Hourly earnings, excluding overtime Weekly earnings Weekly hours Hourly earnings Hourly earnings, excluding overtime Weekly earnings Weekly hours Hourly earnings Hourly earnings, excluding overtime Weekly earnings
Annual averages
1964 40.8 $2.41 $2.32 $98.33 41.6  $2.65 $2.55 $110.24   39.6 $2.06 $1.99 $81.58
1974 40.0 4.31 4.14 172.40 40.8   4.64 4.46  189.31   38.9 3.78 3.64 147.04
1984 40.7 9.05 8.69 368.34 41.5   9.65 9.25  400.48   39.4 8.14 7.83 320.72
1994 41.7 12.04 11.36 502.12 42.6  12.78 12.04  544.66   40.5 10.96 10.38 443.82
2000 41.3 14.32 13.55 590.65 41.8  14.93 14.11  624.38   40.3 13.31 12.62 536.82
2001 40.3 14.76 14.06 595.19 40.6  15.38 14.67  624.54   39.9 13.75 13.09 548.41
2002 40.5 15.29 14.54 618.75 40.8  16.02 15.23  652.97   40.1 14.15 13.44 566.84
2003 40.4 15.74 14.96 635.99 40.8  16.45 15.63  671.21   39.8 14.63 13.91 582.61
2004 40.8 16.14 15.29 658.53 41.3  16.82 15.92  694.16   40.0 15.05 14.27 602.48
2005b 40.7 16.56 15.68 673.20 41.1  17.35 16.43  713.54   39.9 15.27 14.47 608.58
Year Private service-providing Trade, transportation, and utilities Information Financial activities
Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings
Annual averages
1964 37.5 $2.53 $94.88 39.7 $2.85 $113.15 38.2  $4.35 $166.17 37.2 $2.29 $85.19
1974 34.8 4.28 148.94 36.8  4.74  174.43 37.0   6.52  241.24 36.3 3.80 137.94
1984 33.2 7.95 263.94 34.7  8.45  293.22 36.6  11.50  420.90 36.2 7.65 276.93
1994 32.7 10.87 354.97 34.3 10.80  370.38 36.0  15.32  551.28 35.5 11.82 419.20
2000 32.7 13.60 445.00 33.8 13.31  449.88 36.8  19.07  700.89 35.9 14.98 537.37
2001 32.5 14.16 460.32 33.5 13.70  459.53 36.9  19.80  731.11 35.8 15.59 558.02
2002 32.5 14.56 472.88 33.6 14.02  471.27 36.5  20.20  738.17 35.6 16.17 575.51
2003 32.4 14.96 483.89 33.6 14.34  481.14 36.2  21.01  760.81 35.5 17.14 609.08
2004 32.3 15.26 493.67 33.5 14.59  488.58 36.3  21.42  777.42 35.5 17.53 622.99
2005b 32.4 15.71 508.98 33.4 14.95  499.74 36.5  22.14  808.63 35.9 17.97 645.37

While those in sales and office occupations ($575 per week) generally earned less than the median earnings of all workers, sales representatives of securities, commodities, and financial services earned far more than others ($1,007). Cashiers ($336), telemarketers ($367), and door-to-door sales workers, news and street vendors ($422) had the lowest weekly salaries among those in sales occupations. Office and administrative support personnel earned a median weekly salary of $550. Postal service mail carriers earned $832 per week, while hotel desk clerks earned $376. (See Table 6.3.)

In general, those classified as service providers are the least well paid, although there is a wide spectrum of occupations and careers among service providers. Some of the lowest paid service workers in 2004 were dishwashers ($296 per week). Detectives and criminal investigators ($1,054) and police supervisory occupations ($1,009) earned average weekly incomes that were among the highest in 2005. (See Table 6.3.)

TABLE 6.2 Average hours and earnings of production or nonsupervisory workersa on private nonfarm payrolls by major industry sector, selected years, 1964–2005 (CONTINUED) Adapted from "B-2. Average Hours and Earnings of Production or Nonsupervisory Workers on Private Nonfarm Payrolls by Major Industry Sector, 1964 to Date," Current Population Survey, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2005, ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/suppl/empsit.ceseeb2.txt (accesssed January 10, 2006)

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TABLE 6.2
Average hours and earnings of production or nonsupervisory workersa on private nonfarm payrolls by major industry sector, selected years, 1964–2005 (CONTINUED)
Year Professional and business services Education and health services Leisure and hospitality Other services
Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings Weekly hours Hourly earnings Weekly earnings
aData relate to production workers in natural resources and mining and manufacturing, construction workers in construction, and nonsupervisory workers in the service-providing industries.
bPreliminary
Note: Data are currently projected from March 2004 benchmark levels. When more recent benchmark data are introduced with the release of January 2006 estimates, all unadjusted data from April 2004 forward are subject to revision
SOURCE: Adapted from "B-2. Average Hours and Earnings of Production or Nonsupervisory Workers on Private Nonfarm Payrolls by Major Industry Sector, 1964 to Date," Current Population Survey, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2005, ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/suppl/empsit.ceseeb2.txt (accesssed January 10, 2006)
Annual averages
1964 37.4 $3.17 $118.56 35.5 $2.01 $71.36 32.8 $1.06 $34.77 36.3 $1.14 $41.38
1974 35.3 5.01 176.85 33.1 3.82 126.44 29.1 2.34 68.09 33.9 2.95 100.01
1984 34.3 8.98 308.01 32.0 7.67 245.44 26.7 4.87 130.03 32.9 6.79 223.39
1994 34.1 12.15 414.16 32.0 11.50 368.14 26.0 6.46 168.00 32.7 10.18 332.44
2000 34.5 15.52 535.07 32.2 13.95 449.29 26.1 8.11 211.79 32.5 12.73 413.41
2001 34.2 16.33 557.84 32.3 14.64 473.39 25.8 8.35 215.19 32.3 13.27 428.64
2002 34.2 16.81 574.66 32.4 15.21 492.74 25.8 8.58 221.26 32.0 13.72 439.76
2003 34.1 17.21 587.02 32.3 15.64 505.69 25.6 8.76 224.30 31.4 13.84 434.41
2004 34.2 17.46 596.96 32.4 16.16 523.83 25.7 8.91 228.63 31.0 13.98 433.04
2005b 34.2 18.02 616.38 32.6 16.69 543.70 25.7 9.13 234.96 30.9 14.25 440.80

In the installation, maintenance, and repair occupations category, supervisors of mechanics and repairers ($814), radio and telecommunications equipment installers and repairers ($861), and aircraft mechanics ($919) earned the highest weekly salaries, while automotive body repairers ($587) were among the lowest. Among transportation and material-moving occupations, hand packers and packagers ($349) and service station-related jobs ($323) were among the lowest paid, while those in railroad transportation earned $1,017 per week. The occupation earning the highest weekly pay in this category was airline pilot/flight engineer ($1,366). (See Table 6.3.) See the BLS publication Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006–07 Edition (http://www.bls.gov/oco/home.htm) for detailed descriptions of each job.

Starting Salaries for New College Graduates

In the fall of 2005 the Salary Survey published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported increases in the starting salaries offered to new college graduates. The $50,664 average offer to computer science majors represented a 3.3% increase over the previous year's average. Information sciences graduates saw average offers increase 3.6% to $43,902 in 2005. Other disciplines that experienced increases included chemical engineering, with a 2.1% increase from 2004 to $53,639; computer engineering, with a 1.8% increase to $52,242; and mechanical engineering, which rose by 3.3% to $50,175.

The Salary Survey indicated higher increases in salary offers to some business and accounting disciplines, though the actual dollar amounts of the offers were lower than those for computer sciences and engineering. Management information systems graduates averaged a starting salary of $43,653, 5% higher than their counterparts a year earlier. Graduates with degrees in accounting had an average starting salary of $42,940, 4.6% above the 2004 level.

Liberal arts graduates enjoyed some of the highest increases in average starting salary offers, although the offers lagged behind more technical disciplines. Liberal arts and sciences graduates received offers averaging $32,725, which was 10.1% above similar offers the previous year. Salaries for psychology majors rose by 6.5% to $30,073 in 2005.

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