Load 16 Tons and What Do You Get? Wage Tables Can Answer That

by Christopher Rich

September 8, 2017

Sometimes you’d just like to know what a job pays without getting bogged down in a lot of other details. Maybe you’re an employer looking to pay a competitive wage to attract the right applicant and you’re unsure what a competitive wage looks like in today’s economy. Maybe you’re a job seeker who wants to know whether your prospective employer is offering a competitive wage, or if they’re shopping for a 21st century labor force with a 20th century payroll. In either case, the occupational wage tables are for you.

Mining the Data

The complete occupational wage tables for Eastern Oregon (Baker, Grant, Harney, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa) can be found on www.qualityinfo.org in the Publications/Download Publications section, under the title Eastern Oregon Wage Information. These tables contain 2017 wage estimates for more than 300 occupations. The data used to create the wage estimates come from the Occupational Employment Survey (OES). This survey samples more than 18,000 establishments in Oregon and takes over three years to collect data. The data used for the current wage estimates is from surveys conducted in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. The wage data were adjusted to 2017 using the Employment Cost Index.
It’s important to note that wage rates vary between industries, as well as by firm size within an industry. It’s also important to note that when determining wage rates for individual occupations, it’s valuable to assess current labor market conditions which also affect wages. See
Don’t Sell Yourself Short, or the Value of a Bachelor’s Degree for more about how labor market conditions can influence wages. 

Busting Up the Muck

Occupations are broken into 22 broad occupational groups (seen in the accompanying table) and then further broken down by specific occupations (provided in the complete table on Qualityinfo). Most wages in the wage tables are shown as hourly amounts with just a few represented as yearly amounts. Wages are provided by percentile as well as average wage for each group or occupation. The 10th percentile means that 10 percent of workers in the select occupation earn the specified amount or less and 90 percent of workers in the occupation earn more than the specified amount. The 90th percentile means that 10 percent of workers in the select occupation earn the specified amount or more and 90 percent of workers in the occupation earn less than the specified amount.

Among the broad occupational groups, workers earning 10th percentile wages made the most if they were in management occupations ($19.04/hr). This group also had the highest wage in each percentile except the 90th. Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations had a slightly higher 90th percentile wage ($63.81/hr) than management occupations ($62.40/hr).

Sales and related occupations made the least in both the 10th and 25th percentile: $10.01 and $10.45 an hour respectively. Food preparation and serving-related occupations made the least in the 50th, 75th, and 90th percentile: $11.36, $12.22, and $15.15 an hour respectively.

Extracting the Nuggets

Unpacking the occupational groups using the complete Eastern Oregon table helps shed some light on why the management group holds the higher wages, and why the sales group and the food prep and serving group hold the lower wages. The management group includes management occupations found in all broad occupational groups. For instance, construction managers manage carpenters, electricians, roofers, construction laborers, and other workers within the construction and extraction occupations group. Sales managers manage cashiers, counter and rental clerks, retail salespersons, and other workers within the sales and related occupations group. And food service managers manage cooks, bartenders, waiters, dishwashers, and other workers within the food preparation and serving-related occupations group. In general, managers receive higher wages than workers they manage due to the added responsibility and workload that comes with overseeing other workers. Managers can expect to receive wages that are higher, yet relative to wages for workers in the occupational group they manage.
 
In the sales and related occupations group in Eastern Oregon, just under one-third of workers are cashiers. Although percentile wages for cashiers were suppressed in the complete Eastern Oregon wage table, the average wage for the occupation was $10.90 an hour, which is the lowest average wage in the sales and related group. Retail salespersons, another occupation in the sales and related group, also accounts for roughly one-third of workers. Entry-level wages for this occupation tend to be low with the 10th percentile wage at $10.01 an hour. Workers who remain in an occupation over time typically gain experience and improve their productivity. While the wage tables do not account for these gains, the differences seen in percentile wages for the sales and related group suggest that wages tend to increase with added experience, even in the retail salesperson occupation. The 50th percentile wage for retail salespersons was $11.42 an hour, the 75th percentile wage was $13.18 an hour, and the 90th percentile wage was $17.42 an hour.

In the food preparation and serving-related occupations group, roughly half of all workers were in serving-related occupations such as bartenders, counter attendants, and waiters and waitresses. Entry-level wages for all occupations in the group tend to be low with serving occupations showing the lowest percentile wages. The 10th percentile wage for waiters and waitresses was $10.28 an hour and the wage for counter attendants was $10.27 an hour. Percentile wages were suppressed for bartenders however the average wage was $11.68 an hour. For waiters and waitresses the 50th percentile wage was $11.26 an hour, the 75th percentile wage was $11.96 an hour, and the 90th percentile wage was $13.85 an hour; for counter attendants percentile wages were comparable to waiters and waitresses. Unlike the sales and related occupations group, the percentile breakdowns for food preparation and serving-related occupations suggest that even with increased experience, workers who remain in these occupations over time don’t see wages increase very much. This is likely because a good portion of compensation for these occupations typically comes from tips.

So What Do You Get?

While the complete Eastern Oregon wage table contains over 300 occupations, there are occupations that aren’t found on the list. Certain occupations have been excluded due to small survey sample or data quality issues, or for other reasons like the occupation just isn’t found in Eastern Oregon. When looking for occupations not covered by a local area list, Oregon’s overall wage table generally has it covered. Oregon’s wage table contains over 700 occupations and is found under the title Oregon Wage Information. Oregon’s wage table provides an answer to the question at the top of the page. The average wage for an extraction worker’s helper, an occupation very likely to load sixteen tons, is $19.13 an hour. The 10th percentile wage for this occupation was $12.49 an hour with a 90th percentile wage of $34.58.

 


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