Earnings and Benefits

EARNINGS AND BENEFITS

EARNINGS

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

Full-Time, Year-Round Workers

In 2006, according to statistics reported by Bruce H. Webster Jr. and Alemayehu Bishaw of the U.S. Census Bureau in Income, Earnings, and Poverty Data from the 2006 American Community Survey (August 2007, http://www.census2010.gov/prod/2007pubs/acs08.pdf), the median earnings for full-time, year-round workers were $42,210 for men and $32,649 for women; women earned just 77.3% of what men earned. Asian workers earned the highest median salaries in 2006. Asian men earned a median of $50,159; Asian women earned a median of $38,613, 77% of what Asian men earned. Non-Hispanic white men earned a median of $47,814; non-Hispanic white women earned a median of $35,151, 73.5% of what non-Hispanic white men earned. African-American men earned a median of $34,480 in 2006; African-American women earned $30,398, 88.2% of what African-American men earned. Hispanics earned the lowest median salaries in 2006, but Hispanic women were closer in percentage to what Hispanic men earned than women of other races and ethnicities were to corresponding males of their same race or ethnicity. Hispanic men earned a median of $27,490; Hispanic women earned $24,738, 90% of what their male peers earned.

According to data reported by the U.S. Census Bureau in Historical Income Tables (March 2007, 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 2005 dollars, have changed very little for more than three decades. In 1972 men had a median income equal to $42,617 in 2005 dollars. Wages dropped to a low of $40,958 in 1995, but had risen again to a high of $44,262 in 2001 before dropping again to below the 1972 level, at $42,188, in 2005. Women's earnings, on the other hand, have substantially increased. In constant 2005 dollars, women who worked full-time, year-round earned a median of only $24,479 in 1972. By 2005 full-time female workers earned a median of $33,256, down from a high of $33,619 in 2002.

Another way to examine incomes is to look at household incomes. Households in which two or more adults are working tend to have higher incomes than do single-adult households. In 2006 the median household income was $48,201. (See Table 6.1.) Married-couple households had a higher median income ($69,716) than did nonfamily households ($29,083). Family households headed by a single householder had substantially lower incomes than did married-couple households, especially when headed by a female. Family households headed by a single male had a median income of $47,078, and family households headed by a single female had a median income of only $31,818.

The race and ethnicity of a householder affected median household income as well. Asian householders had a substantially higher median income than any other group in 2006, at $64,238. Non-Hispanic white households had a median income of $52,423, Hispanic households had a median income of $37,781, and African-American households had a median income of just $31,969. (See Table 6.1.) Households of all races and ethnicities saw a slight rise in median incomes from 2005 to 2006 except for non-Hispanic white households, which experienced a slight decline in median income in 2006.

TABLE 6.1
Income and earnings by selected characteristics, 2006

[Income in 2006 dollars. Households and people as of March of the following year.]
2006
Median income (dollars)
Characteristic Number (thousands) Estimate
* Federal surveys now give respondents the option of reporting more than one race. Therefore, two basic ways of defining a race group are possible. A group such as Asian may be defined as those who reported Asian and no other race (the race-alone or single-race concept) or as those who reported Asian regardless of whether they also reported another race (the race-alone-or-in-combination concept). This table shows data using the first approach (race alone). The use of the single-race population does not imply that it is the preferred method of presenting or analyzing data. The Census Bureau uses a variety of approaches.
About 2.6 percent of people reported more than one race in Census 2000. Data for American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, and those reporting two or more races are not shown separately in this table.
Adapted from Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, and Jessica Smith, Table 1. Income and Earnings Summary Measures by Selected Characteristics: 2005 and 2006, in Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006, U.S. Census Bureau, August 2007, http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/p60-233.pdf (accessed February 18, 2008)
Households
All households 16,011 48,201
Type of household
Family households 78,425 59,894
Married-couple 58,945 69,716
Female householder, no husband present 14,416 31,818
Male householder, no wife present 5,063 47,078
Nonfamily households 37,587 29,083
Female householder 20,249 23,876
Male householder 17,338 35,614
Race* and Hispanic origin of householder
White 94,705 50,673
White, not Hispanic 82,675 52,423
Black 14,354 31,969
Asian 4,454 64,238
Hispanic origin (any race) 12,973 37,781
Age of householder
Under 65 years 92,282 54,726
15 to 24 years 6,662 30,937
25 to 34 years 19,435 49,164
35 to 44 years 22,779 60,405
45 to 54 years 24,140 64,874
55 to 64 years 19,266 54,592
65 years and older 23,729 27,798
Nativity of householder
Native 100,603 49,074
Foreign born 15,408 43,943
Naturalized citizen 7,210 51,440
Not a citizen 8,198 39,497
Earnings of full-time, year-round workers
Men with earnings 63,055 42,261
Women with earnings 44,663 32,515

Production and Nonsupervisory Earnings

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in Current Population Survey (2008, ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/suppl/empsit.ceseeb2.txt), production workers and workers not in management positions on private, nonfarm payrolls worked an average of 33.8 hours per week in 2007 and earned a mean salary of $17.42 per hour. Hourly salaries and hours worked varied by industry. Workers employed in professional and business service occupations worked an average of 34.8 hours per week at an hourly wage of $20.13. People employed in the private service-providing industry sector worked an average of 32.4 hours and earned less than the overall average$17.10 per hour. Those in leisure and hospitality worked fewer hours per week (25.5) and earned only $10.41 per hour, well below the mean for all workers; the combination of their low wages and fewer hours meant that these workers earned much less than workers in other industries. Natural resources and mining workers and construction workers earned more than the total average earnings, bringing in, on average, $20.96 and $20.95 per hour, respectively. Workers in both categories also worked longer hours per week than the overall average (45.9 hours per week for those employed in natural resources and mining industries, and 39 for construction).

Occupations

Another way to look at earnings is to consider specific occupations. Someone working in a specific occupation may work in one of several industries. For example, a photographer might work at a university (in the education and health services industry), or in a photography studio (in the professional and business services industry). A janitor might work in a hospital (in the education and health services industry), in a manufacturing plant (in the manufacturing industry), or in a hotel (in the leisure and hospitality industry). However, the training and work experience requirements for the position, regardless of the industry in which it is located, are the same.

As reported by the BLS in Employment and Earnings (January 2008, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat39.pdf), full-time wage and salary workers earned a median of $695 per week in 2007, with men earning a median of $766 and women earning a median of $614. (See Table 6.2.) The highest paid occupations tended to be in management, business, and financial occupations and engineering occupations. These occupations almost always require advanced degrees. Chief executives, for example, earned the highest median weekly earnings of $1,882. Engineering managers ($1,713) and computer and information systems managers ($1,553) were also highly paid. All engineers made high median weekly earnings, especially aerospace engineers ($1,557), electrical and electronic engineers ($1,454), and chemical engineers ($1,410). Lawyers and judges also made high median weekly salaries ($1,591 and $1,728, respectively), as did pharmacists ($1,838) and physicians and surgeons ($1,475).

The lowest paid occupations were concentrated in the service occupations, particularly food preparation and service related occupations. These occupations require little, if any, education or training. In 2007 food preparation workers made a median of only $349 per week, counter attendants,

TABLE 6.2
Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by detailed occupation and sex, 2007

[Numbers in thousands; earnings in dollars.]
2007
Both sexes Men Women
Occupation Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings
Total, 16 years and over 107,339 $695 60,298 $766 47,041 $614
Management, professional, and related Occupations 39,147 996 19,222 1,187 19,924 858
Management, business, and financial operations occupations 15,977 1,080 8,684 1,261 7,293 908
Management occupations 11,009 1,161 6,570 1,337 4,438 963
Chief executives 1,043 1,882 776 1,918 267 1,536
General and operations managers 893 1,221 644 1,332 249 987
Advertising and promotions managers 69 965 29 * 41 *
Marketing and sales managers 784 1,319 488 1,511 296 1,028
Public relations managers 60 1,145 29 * 30 *
Administrative services managers 97 1,057 69 1,068 28 *
Computer and information systems managers 444 1,553 321 1,596 123 1,363
Financial managers 1,070 1,078 495 1,452 575 909
Human resources managers 238 1,208 72 1,581 166 1,073
Industrial production managers 253 1,216 211 1,244 41 *
Purchasing managers 154 1,240 90 1,374 64 1,054
Transportation, storage, and distribution managers 252 845 208 836 43 *
Farm, ranch, and other agricultural managers 86 713 67 693 19 *
Construction managers 546 1,143 497 1,155 48 *
Education administrators 713 1,131 259 1,371 454 960
Engineering managers 116 1,713 107 1,748 9 *
Food service managers 646 645 338 731 308 584
Lodging managers 104 696 48 * 56 618
Medical and health services managers 448 1,136 122 1,414 326 1,063
Property, real estate, and community association managers 338 787 140 970 197 732
Social and community service managers 269 962 105 1,063 164 913
Managers, all other 2,296 1,180 1,399 1,307 897 1,006
Business and financial operations occupations 4,968 941 2,114 1,131 2,854 832
Wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products 157 750 77 794 81 737
Purchasing agents, except wholesale, retail, and farm products 260 854 112 992 148 753
Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators 270 809 106 898 164 743
Compliance officers, except agriculture, construction, health and
safety, and transportation 125 936 62 1,124 63 747
Cost estimators 104 1,034 89 1,063 16 *
Human resources, training, and labor relations specialists 731 875 215 1,037 517 811
Logisticians 53 990 30 * 22 *
Management analysts 352 1,200 186 1,388 166 1,083
Other business operations specialists 195 834 59 1,026 136 772
Accountants and auditors 1,519 968 577 1,186 942 858
Appraisers and assessors of real estate 67 960 45 * 22 *
Budget analysts 53 1,124 20 * 33 *
Financial analysts 76 1,232 51 1,238 25 *
Personal financial advisors 260 1,204 171 1,377 89 1,047
Insurance underwriters 91 979 26 * 65 865
Loan counselors and officers 408 938 189 1,129 219 844
Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents 59 837 26 * 33 *
Tax preparers 52 761 21 * 32 *
Professional and related occupations 23,170 951 10,538 1,148 12,632 835
Computer and mathematical occupations 3,117 1,229 2,326 1,294 790 1,047
Computer scientists and systems analysts 712 1,173 511 1,243 201 1,041
Computer programmers 485 1,232 361 1,268 124 1,074
Computer software engineers 872 1,455 694 1,509 178 1,318
Computer support specialists 273 877 200 905 73 764
Database administrators 101 1,345 64 1,400 37 *
Network and computer systems administrators 205 1,180 178 1,204 27 *
Network systems and data communications analysts 328 1,039 237 1,181 91 853
Operations research analysts 85 1,182 47 * 38 *

cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop workers made only $305 per week, waiters made $380 per week, dishwashers made $316 per week, and hosts and hostesses in restaurants made a median of $366 per week. (See Table 6.2.) Child care workers earned only $368 per week and personal and home care aides made just $380 per week. Agricultural workers were also paid very little, earning a median of $352 per week.

Although those working in managerial and professional specialties tended to earn the highest wages in 2007 and those in service occupations tended to earn the lowest wages, within each occupational grouping, many categories earned significantly more or less than the median wage. For example, among managerial occupations, chief executives had the highest weekly wages ($1,882), while lodging managers ($696) and food service managers ($645) earned

TABLE 6.2
Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by detailed occupation and sex, 2007

[Numbers in thousands; earnings in dollars.]
2007
Both sexes Men Women
Occupation Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings
Architecture and engineering occupations 2,633 $1,213 2,249 $1,258 384 $981
Architects, except naval 160 1,151 120 1,296 40 *
Aerospace engineers 127 1,557 114 1,637 13 *
Chemical engineers 72 1,410 54 1,495 18 *
Civil engineers 330 1,337 295 1,358 35 *
Computer hardware engineers 66 1,325 63 1,352 3 *
Electrical and electronics engineers 325 1,454 292 1,483 32 *
Industrial engineers, including health and safety 163 1,223 135 1,250 28 *
Mechanical engineers 281 1,354 259 1,349 22 *
Engineers, all other 310 1,350 275 1,373 35 *
Drafters 161 823 126 885 35 *
Engineering technicians, except drafters 405 902 315 958 90 781
Surveying and mapping technicians 75 748 68 750 7 *
Life, physical, and social science occupations 1,152 1,053 683 1,151 469 939
Biological scientists 81 1,004 46 * 34 *
Medical scientists 145 1,098 78 1,374 66 856
Chemists and materials scientists 120 1,149 67 1,354 53 980
Environmental scientists and geoscientists 78 1,080 58 1,159 20 *
Physical scientists, all other 120 1,371 78 1,531 41 *
Market and survey researchers 122 1,062 54 1,160 68 1,035
Psychologists 100 1,170 38 * 63 1,152
Chemical technicians 57 785 37 * 21 *
Other life, physical, and social science technicians 117 749 76 833 41 *
Community and social services occupations 1,893 755 776 807 1,117 720
Counselors 577 760 202 833 375 724
Social workers 587 757 112 764 475 754
Miscellaneous community and social service specialists 272 680 103 788 169 636
Clergy 359 797 313 832 46 *
Religious workers, all other 62 668 30 * 32 *
Legal occupations 1,167 1,148 505 1,579 663 930
Lawyers 624 1,591 393 1,783 231 1,381
Judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers 67 1,728 41 * 26 *
Paralegals and legal assistants 285 797 34 * 251 789
Miscellaneous legal support workers 192 722 37 * 155 662
Education, training, and library occupations 6,500 841 1,810 1,007 4,690 784
Postsecondary teachers 860 1,131 491 1,239 370 962
Preschool and kindergarten teachers 488 567 15 1 473 561
Elementary and middle school teachers 2,595 863 514 938 2,081 847
Secondary school teachers 1,028 944 471 1,001 558 900
Special education teachers 323 881 58 860 265 886
Other teachers and instructors 335 766 147 987 188 685
Librarians 169 861 35 * 134 846
Teacher assistants 600 410 47 * 553 406
Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations 1,568 829 879 920 689 732
Artists and related workers 78 953 47 * 31 *
Designers 553 776 278 894 275 697
Producers and directors 93 1,008 64 988 29 *
Athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers 119 773 94 798 25 *
News analysts, reporters and correspondents 63 943 36 * 27 *
Public relations specialists 110 851 39 * 70 804
Editors 134 931 75 979 59 804
Writers and authors 80 999 34 * 46 *
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians and radio operators 70 864 60 893 10 *
Photographers 61 660 35 * 26 *

the least. (See Table 6.2.) People working in sales and office occupations earned a median weekly wage of $598, less than the median earnings of all workers, but considerable variability existed. Sales representatives of securities, commodities, and financial services earned far more than others ($1,128). On the other hand, cashiers ($356), telemarketers ($407), and door-to-door sales workers and news and street vendors ($464) earned considerably below the median weekly wage for all workers in sales and office occupations. Among office workers, tellers ($455) and stock clerks ($445) earned particularly low wages, while postal mail carriers ($896) earned relatively high wages.

The manufacturing industry is projected to lose jobs between 2006 and 2016, and considerable variability existed in the median wages of those working in production occupations. Although the median weekly wage of all workers in production was $581 in 2007, first-line

TABLE 6.2
Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by detailed occupation and sex, 2007

[Numbers in thousands; earnings in dollars.]
2007
Both sexes Men Women
Occupation Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings
Healthcare practitioner and technical occupations 5,140 $920 1,310 $1,156 3,830 $875
Dietitians and nutritionists 76 734 6 * 70 720
Pharmacists 172 1,838 84 1,887 87 1,603
Physicians and surgeons 611 1,475 413 1,796 197 1,062
Physician assistants 71 1,211 22 * 48 *
Registered nurses 1,965 984 192 1,098 1,773 976
Occupational therapists 51 1,099 11 * 40 *
Physical therapists 139 1,143 60 1,247 79 1,096
Respiratory therapists 77 896 27 * 50 881
Speech-language pathologists 84 1,037 2 * 82 1,039
Therapists, all other 73 730 21 * 53 729
Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians 270 844 68 1,049 201 803
Dental hygienists 61 946 1 * 60 949
Diagnostic related technologists and technicians 226 916 83 1,050 144 845
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics 129 704 95 751 34 *
Health diagnosing and treating practitioner support technicians 341 579 68 687 273 538
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses 422 668 30 * 392 664
Medical records and health information technicians 72 507 4 * 68 509
Miscellaneous health technologists and technicians 99 688 33 * 66 681
Service occupations 14,716 454 7,371 515 7,345 406
Healthcare support occupations 2,187 454 261 522 1,926 447
Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides 1,344 423 170 500 1,174 416
Dental assistants 169 508 14 * 155 508
Medical assistants and other healthcare support occupations 589 490 58 575 531 487
Protective service occupations 2,736 719 2,175 754 560 588
First-line supervisors/managers of police and detectives 124 1,067 105 1,084 20 *
First-line supervisors/managers of fire fighting and prevention work 59 1,197 53 1,119 6 *
Supervisors, protective service workers, all other 91 758 68 876 23 *
Fire fighters 266 901 252 919 14 *
Bailiffs, correctional officers, and jailers 437 648 304 686 132 578
Detectives and criminal investigators 134 1,066 104 1,121 30 *
Police and sheriff's patrol officers 655 891 568 907 86 791
Private detectives and investigators 64 696 46 * 17 *
Security guards and gaming surveillance officers 750 510 579 524 172 465
Lifeguards and other protective service workers 58 410 29 * 29 *
Food preparation and serving related occupations 4,107 385 2,070 403 2,037 363
Chefs and head cooks 290 518 236 535 53 482
First-line supervisors/managers of food preparation and serving workers 449 491 191 586 258 423
Cooks 1,263 365 815 377 448 341
Food preparation workers 322 349 124 367 198 335
Bartenders 212 479 108 551 104 404
Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food 145 340 46 * 99 358
Counter attendants, cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop 91 305 36 * 55 299
Waiters and waitresses 865 380 274 415 592 360
Food servers, nonrestaurant 95 415 29 * 67 401
Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers 156 356 89 370 67 345
Dishwashers 150 316 111 314 38 *
Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop 63 366 7 * 56 363

supervisors made quite a bit more, with a median of $824 per week. (See Table 6.2.) Computer control programmers and operators ($780) and tool and die makers ($918) also made fairly high median weekly wages. On the other hand, pressers of textiles, garment, and related materials made among the lowest wages of all workers, at $344 per week. Sewing machine operators ($361) and laundry and dry-cleaning workers ($380) also made very low median weekly wages. See the BLS publication Occupational Outlook Handbook (http://www.bls.gov/oco/home.htm) for detailed descriptions of each job.

Starting Salaries for New College Graduates

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported in Salary Survey (September 12, 2007, http://www.naceweb.org/press/display.asp?year=2007&prid=264)

TABLE 6.2
Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by detailed occupation and sex, 2007

[Numbers in thousands; earnings in dollars.]
2007
Both sexes Men Women
Occupation Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations 3,520 $422 2,290 $472 1,230 $376
First-line supervisors/managers of housekeeping and janitorial work 180 586 126 646 54 481
First-line supervisors/managers of landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping workers 105 718 99 732 6 *
Janitors and building cleaners 1,444 434 1,028 475 416 388
Maids and housekeeping cleaners 849 366 132 439 717 357
Pest control workers 68 516 65 518 3 *
Grounds maintenance workers 874 420 840 421 34 *
Personal care and service occupations 2,166 434 574 578 1,593 402
First-line supervisors/managers of gaming workers 97 728 65 805 32 *
First-line supervisors/managers of personal service workers 50 605 20 * 30 *
Gaming services workers 88 627 51 655 36 *
Miscellaneous entertainment attendants and related workers 62 416 37 * 26 *
Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists 309 425 31 * 278 409
Miscellaneous personal appearance workers 129 429 31 * 98 402
Baggage porters, bellhops, and concierges 53 522 44 * 9 *
Transportation attendants 96 595 25 * 71 557
Child care workers 445 368 38 * 408 360
Personal and home care aides 433 380 55 434 379 373
Recreation and fitness workers 164 523 68 626 96 513
Personal care and service workers, all other 51 489 24 * 28 *
Sales and office occupations 25,702 598 9,725 714 15,976 550
Sales and related occupations 10,448 643 5,773 791 4,675 493
First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers 2,352 647 1,349 746 1,004 538
First-line supervisors/managers of non-retail sales workers 865 928 587 990 278 768
Cashiers 1,459 356 385 409 1,074 344
Counter and rental clerks 95 504 50 567 45 *
Parts salespersons 122 598 101 638 21 *
Retail salespersons 2,034 513 1,193 638 841 409
Advertising sales agents 185 741 74 900 110 683
Insurance sales agents 357 747 168 959 189 644
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents 307 1,128 208 1,243 100 1,031
Travel agents 79 649 18 * 60 670
Sales representatives, services, all other 485 854 321 939 164 713
Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing 1,228 933 900 976 327 784
Real estate brokers and sales agents 504 851 241 1,027 263 701
Telemarketers 110 407 50 422 60 391
Door-to-door sales workers, news and street vendors, and related workers 55 464 26 * 29 *
Sales and related workers, all other 152 736 62 851 91 682
Office and administrative support occupations 15,253 581 3,952 619 11,301 570
First-line supervisors/managers of office and administrative support 1,396 711 406 803 990 675
Bill and account collectors 190 537 72 586 118 521
Billing and posting clerks and machine operators 365 560 39 * 327 560
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks 964 606 105 666 859 601
Payroll and timekeeping clerks 156 652 14 * 142 636
Tellers 342 455 37 * 304 457
Court, municipal, and license clerks 92 623 17 * 74 626
Customer service representatives 1,570 541 485 608 1,085 521
Eligibility interviewers, government programs 68 661 14 * 54 619
File clerks 279 525 57 574 222 519
Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks 97 406 33 * 64 396
Interviewers, except eligibility and loan 107 560 17 * 90 550
Loan interviewers and clerks 122 639 19 * 103 633
Order clerks 95 542 27 * 68 529
Receptionists and information clerks 1,019 482 79 503 940 480

that starting salaries offered to new college graduates had increased over the previous year. The $53,051 average offer to computer science majors in 2007 represented a 4.5% increase over the 2006 average. Economics graduates had average salary offers of $47,782, while finance graduates received average offers of $46,442. Management information systems graduates received average offers of $47,407, up 4.7%

TABLE 6.2
Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by detailed occupation and sex, 2007

[Numbers in thousands; earnings in dollars.]
2007
Both sexes Men Women
Occupation Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings
Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks 130 $564 59 $562 71 $565
Information and record clerks, all other 87 597 7 * 80 586
Couriers and messengers 191 707 167 720 24 *
Dispatchers 265 602 122 649 143 551
Postal service clerks 151 831 75 812 76 850
Postal service mail carriers 315 896 209 929 105 799
Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators 81 832 45 * 36 *
Production, planning, and expediting clerks 240 746 112 885 128 658
Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks 468 508 318 514 150 500
Stock clerks and order fillers 1,067 445 684 448 383 441
Weighers, measurers, checkers, and samplers, recordkeeping 53 513 24 * 30 *
Secretaries and administrative assistants 2,668 599 90 694 2,578 597
Computer operators 145 595 74 628 71 562
Data entry keyers 381 519 80 511 302 521
Word processors and typists 180 585 16 * 164 586
Insurance claims and policy processing clerks 246 571 32 * 214 559
Mail clerks and mail machine operators, except postal service 101 516 50 509 51 523
Office clerks, general 748 556 123 584 625 550
Office and administrative support workers, all other 490 650 125 719 366 634
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations 12,486 670 12,028 674 457 539
Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations 739 372 601 382 138 348
Graders and sorters, agricultural products 70 398 25 * 45 *
Miscellaneous agricultural workers 546 352 461 357 86 332
Logging workers 59 471 58 469 *
Construction and extraction occupations 7,227 646 7,071 648 156 573
First-line supervisors/managers of construction trades and extraction workers 678 901 663 906 15 *
Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons 170 609 165 608 4 *
Carpenters 1,182 615 1,162 615 20 *
Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers 153 511 148 515 5 *
Cement masons, concrete finishers, and terrazzo workers 86 527 83 530 3 *
Construction laborers 1,374 514 1,351 514 24 *
Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators 376 765 364 772 12 *
Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers 189 511 179 509 10 *
Electricians 777 805 764 804 14 *
Painters, construction and maintenance 435 515 420 515 15 *
Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters 584 721 579 720 5 *
Plasterers and stucco masons 63 513 63 513
Roofers 190 550 188 553 1 *
Sheet metal workers 123 790 118 786 6 *
Structural iron and steel workers 71 870 70 867
Helpers, construction trades 91 434 89 432 2 *
Construction and building inspectors 92 906 83 906 9 *
Highway maintenance workers 102 621 102 623 1 *
Mining machine operators 59 954 57 961 1 *
Other extraction workers 57 777 56 769 1 *
Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations 4,520 749 4,357 750 163 726
First-line supervisors/managers of mechanics, installers, and repairers 324 960 306 961 18 *
Computer, automated teller, and office machine repairers 251 751 217 777 34 *
Radio and telecommunications equipment installers and repairers 182 927 157 923 25 *
Security and fire alarm systems installers 59 739 59 739
Aircraft mechanics and service technicians 128 889 126 895 2 *

from the previous year, while marketing graduates' average offer of $39,269 was 5.6% higher than the year before.

NACE further indicated that almost all disciplines in engineering had increases in their average salaries in 2007. Chemical engineers received average starting salary offers of $59,218, up 5.2% from the year before. Civil engineers received average offers of $48,998, up 6.3% from 2006. Electrical engineers received average starting offers of $55,333, up 3.8% from the previous year. Mechanical engineering graduates received starting offers of $54,057 on average, up 4.3% from the previous year.

TABLE 6.2
Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by detailed occupation and sex, 2007

[Numbers in thousands; earnings in dollars.]
2007
Both sexes Men Women
Occupation Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings
Automotive service technicians and mechanics 670 655 667 656 3 *
Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists 332 698 328 697 4 *
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians and mechanics 226 803 224 802 2 *
Miscellaneous vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers 70 508 70 506
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers 345 728 342 729 3 *
Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics 393 798 381 798 12 *
Maintenance and repair workers, general 444 694 432 694 12 *
Maintenance workers, machinery 53 700 52 703
Millwrights 74 897 73 902 1 *
Electrical power-line installers and repairers 98 1,008 98 1,007 1 *
Telecommunications line installers and repairers 212 843 201 849 11 *
Coin, vending, and amusement machine servicers and repairers 50 685 43 * 7 *
Other installation, maintenance, and repair workers 134 618 124 620 10 *
Production, transportation, and material moving occupations 15,289 577 11,951 616 3,338 437
Production occupations 8,389 581 5,992 641 2,396 443
First-line supervisors/managers of production and operating workers 876 824 726 864 150 615
Electrical, electronics, and electromechanical assemblers 200 488 86 543 114 447
Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators 951 524 588 587 362 460
Bakers 134 433 65 498 69 404
Butchers and other meat, poultry, and fish processing workers 240 495 183 558 57 406
Food batchmakers 74 493 33 * 41 *
Computer control programmers and operators 55 780 51 798 5 *
Cutting, punching, and press machine setters, operators, and tenders 120 563 101 577 19 *
Machinists 406 700 384 706 22 *
Molders and molding machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal 73 580 61 618 12 *
Tool and die makers 75 918 72 923 3 *
Welding, soldering, and brazing workers 536 607 499 618 37 *
Metalworkers and plastic workers, all other 422 551 299 588 123 48
Prepress technicians and workers 51 538 25 * 26 *
Printing machine operators 180 613 153 657 26 *
Laundry and dry-cleaning workers 176 380 78 496 98 340
Pressers, textile, garment, and related materials 50 344 17 * 33
Sewing machine operators 226 361 47 * 179 359
Tailors, dressmakers, and sewers 54 453 20 * 34 *
Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters 67 598 61 607 6 *
Sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, wood 54 483 49 * 5 *
Stationary engineers and boiler operators 88 752 86 757 1 *
Water and liquid waste treatment plant and system operators 74 722 69 731 5 *
Crushing, grinding, polishing, mixing, and blending workers 103 607 94 604 10 *
Cutting workers 84 527 63 546 21 *
Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers 687 625 419 735 268 506
Medical, dental, and ophthalmic laboratory technicians 77 504 38 * 38 *
Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders 264 430 126 493 138 396
Painting workers 168 576 153 590 16 *
Photographic process workers and processing machine operators 50 437 25 * 25 *
Production workers, all other 912 540 636 583 276 445

Liberal arts graduates enjoyed some of the biggest proportional increases in average starting salary offers, according to the NACE survey, although the amount of starting offers lagged behind offers to recent graduates of more technical disciplines. Every major liberal arts category saw an increase in average starting salary offers, including history majors, who averaged offers of $35,092, up 6.1% over the previous year; political science and government majors, who averaged offers of $35,261, up 6.5% over 2006; and sociology majors, who averaged offers of $32,161, up 3.4% over the previous year.

TABLE 6.2
Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, by detailed occupation and sex, 2007

[Numbers in thousands; earnings in dollars.]
2007
Both sexes Men Women
Occupation Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings Number of workers Median weekly earnings
*Data are not shown where base is less than 50,000.
Note: Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data. Dash indicates no data or data that do not meet publication criteria.
SOURCE: Adapted from 39. Median Weekly Earnings of Full-Time Wage and Salary Workers by Detailed Occupation and Sex, in Employment and Earnings, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2008, http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat39.pdf (accessed February 2, 2008)
Transportation and material moving occupations 6,900 $570 5,959 $596 942 $424
Supervisors, transportation and material moving workers 203 811 164 836 39 *
Aircraft pilots and flight engineers 95 1,358 92 1,381 4 *
Bus drivers 365 507 187 540 178 476
Driver/sales workers and truck drivers 2,772 665 2,658 672 113 499
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs 217 501 189 518 28 *
Locomotive engineers and operators 54 1,157 51 1,184 2 *
Railroad conductors and yardmasters 51 912 49 * 2 *
Parking lot attendants 71 410 64 422 6 *
Service station attendants 63 404 57 411 6 *
Crane and tower operators 55 715 55 716
Industrial truck and tractor operators 532 519 503 522 29 *
Cleaners of vehicles and equipment 233 405 200 413 33 *
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand 1,428 474 1,195 486 233 418
Packers and packagers, hand 335 374 114 414 221 362
Refuse and recyclable material collectors 60 517 58 525 3 *

EMPLOYEE BENEFITS

Government Employment

In 2008 the BLS stated in Career Guide to Industries (State and Local Government, Except Education and Hospitals, http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs042.htm) that employer-provided benefits, such as health insurance, life insurance, and retirement benefits, were more commonly available to government employees than they were to workers employed in private industry. About three-fourths (73%) of employees of state and local governments had paid holidays in 1998 (still the most current statistics available from the BLS and published in Employee Benefits in State and Local Governments, 1998, December 2000, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/sp/ebbl0018.pdf). More than one-third (38%) of government workers were eligible for paid personal leave, and 96% had paid sick leave. Also as a benefit, 95% of state and local government employees were offered unpaid family leave. Most (89%) participated in employer-provided life insurance plans, and 86% had medical care plans, with 51% of the participants paying a monthly contribution to the health plan. Most government employees (98%) were provided with retirement income benefits.

Private Industry

According to data from the BLS in National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States (August 2007, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/sp/ebsm0006.pdf), workers in goods-producing industries had greater access to benefits in March 2007 than did employees of service-producing industries. In addition, people who worked for companies that employed at least a hundred people often had greater access to a variety of benefits than did employees of small companies, especially retirement plans, health insurance, and disability benefits. Other benefits that workers in private industry typically received included paid holidays and vacations and life insurance plans, and occasionally child care resources, stock option plans, short-term disability plans, and long-term care insurance. These benefits are discussed in more detail below.

PAID HOLIDAYS AND VACATION DAYS. The number of paid holiday and vacation days that workers in private industry received varied by occupation, wages, size of workplace, union status, and industry. Over three-quarters (77%) of all workers received paid holidays and paid vacations, as reported by the BLS in the National Compensation Survey. On average, these workers received eight paid holidays per year. Workers whose wages were $15 per hour or higher averaged nine paid holidays, while workers with lower wages averaged only seven. Unionized workers received, on average, ten yearly paid holidays, compared with nonunion workers, who averaged only eight. The average number of vacation days workers were eligible for increased with length of service. After one year, as reported in the National Compensation Survey, workers were eligible for, on average, 8.9 vacation days, after five years they were eligible for 13.5 days, and after ten years they were eligible for 16.1 days. Workers in management and professional occupations were eligible for significantly more vacation days than workers in other occupations, as were workers who made $15 per hour or more and workers who worked in establishments with at least one hundred workers.

HEALTH INSURANCE. According to the National Compensation Survey, 71% of all private industry workers had access to employer-provided medical care plans and slightly more than half (52%) participated in such plans in March 2007. Medical care plans were the benefits most widely available to workers in private industry, followed closely by prescription drug coverage. (See Figure 6.1.) Nearly half of all workers (46%) had access to dental care, 29% had access to vision care, and 68% had access to prescription drug coverage. (See Table 6.3.) Workers in management and professional fields had more access to medical care (85%) than did workers in other fields, as did workers whose wages were $15 or more (87%), workers in goods-producing industries (85%), and workers in establishments with at least one hundred workers (84%).

Three-quarters (76%) of employees with single-coverage medical care and 87% of employees with family coverage were required to make a contribution toward their health insurance in March 2007. (See Table 6.4 and Table 6.5.) Employees with single coverage were required to pay, on average, 19% of their health insurance premiums, while those with family plans were required to pay, on average, 29% of their health insurance premiums. As shown in Table 6.4 and Table 6.5, employees with single coverage were required to pay an average of $81.37 per month, and those with family coverage were required to pay an average of $312.78 per month. These premiums were up from an average of $60.24 per month for single coverage and $228.98 per month for family coverage in 2003, figures reported by the BLS in National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, 20022003 (January 2005, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/sp/ebbl0020.pdf).

Some employees in private industry had access to other health-care benefits in addition to health insurance in 2007. The National Compensation Survey found that 33% of all employees had access to health-care reimbursement accounts, a type of health-care plan in which employers set aside funds to reimburse employees for qualified medical expenses. (See Table 6.6.) Another 8% of all employees had access to health savings accounts, in which employees themselves could place pretax dollars into health-care accounts and then get reimbursed from that account for qualified medical expenses. Workers in management and professional occupations were much more likely than any other groups to have access to these accounts. More than half (55%) of all managers and professionals had access to health-care reimbursement accounts, compared with only 35% of sales and office workers and lesser proportions of the other major occupational groups. Likewise, managers and professionals (12%) as well as sales and office workers (11%) had more access to health savings accounts than did workers in other occupations. Workers that made at least $15 per hour were more likely to have access to both of these benefits than were workers who made less. Workers in larger establishments (one hundred workers or more) also had more access to these benefits than did workers in smaller establishments.

Other health-care benefits offered to some workers in private industry included wellness programs (25%), fitness centers (13%), and employee assistance programs (42%). (See Table 6.6.) Employees of establishments

TABLE 6.3
Percent of workers in private industry with access to and participating in health-care benefits, by selected characteristics, March 2007

[All workers = 100 percent]
Medical care Dental care Vision care Outpatient prescription drug coverage
Characteristics Access Participation Take-up rate* Access Participation Take-up rate* Access Participation Take-up rate* Access Participation Take-up rate*
a The take-up rate is an estimate of the percentage of workers with access to a plan who participate in the plan, rounded for presentation.
b The wage breakout is based on the average wage for each occupation surveyed, which may include workers both above and below the threshold.
SOURCE: Table 5. Healthcare Benefits: Access, Participation, and Take-Up Rates, Private Industry Workers, National Compensation Survey, March 2007, in National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2007, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2007, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/sp/ebsm0006.pdf (accessed February 18, 2008)
All workers 71 52 73 46 36 77 29 22 76 68 49 73
Worker characteristics
Management, professional, and related 85 67 78 62 51 82 39 30 77 82 64 78
Service 46 28 61 28 20 70 20 14 72 44 27 62
Sales and office 71 48 68 47 33 70 27 19 73 67 46 68
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance 76 61 80 43 36 85 31 26 84 72 58 80
Production, transportation, and material moving 78 60 77 49 38 79 30 24 79 75 57 77
Full time 85 64 75 56 44 79 35 27 78 81 61 75
Part time 24 12 51 16 9 56 11 7 63 23 12 51
Union 88 78 88 68 62 90 53 47 88 85 75 88
Nonunion 69 49 71 44 33 74 26 19 74 66 46 71
Average wage less than $15 per hourb 57 37 64 34 23 67 20 14 70 54 35 64
Average wage $15 per hour or higherb 87 70 80 61 51 83 39 31 80 84 67 80
Establishment characteristics
Goods producing 85 68 81 54 45 84 33 27 82 81 66 81
Service providing 67 47 70 44 33 75 28 21 75 64 45 70
1 to 99 workers 59 42 71 30 24 78 19 14 73 55 39 71
100 workers or more 84 62 75 64 49 76 40 31 78 81 60 74
Geographic areas
Metropolitan areas 72 52 73 47 36 77 29 22 76 68 50 73
Nonmetropolitan areas 66 48 73 41 32 77 26 21 79 64 46 72
New England 68 47 69 51 38 75 23 16 67 65 45 68
Middle Atlantic 72 54 74 46 36 77 34 25 75 67 50 75
East North Central 72 53 74 45 35 78 25 20 78 70 52 74
West North Central 67 52 77 43 36 82 20 17 81 66 50 77
South Atlantic 72 52 71 44 33 73 27 20 72 69 49 72
East South Central 75 57 75 52 42 80 39 33 85 73 55 75
West South Central 66 46 69 39 29 75 21 15 75 61 42 69
Mountain 70 48 69 44 32 73 28 21 77 68 47 69
Pacific 72 54 75 54 43 79 39 31 78 68 51 75

with one hundred workers or more were much more likely to have access to these benefits than other employees, as were employees with wages of $15 per hour or more.

RETIREMENT BENEFITS. Six out of every ten workers (61%) in private industry had access to retirement benefits in March 2007, according to the National Compensation Survey. Half of all workers (51%) participated in these plans; 84% of all workers with access to a retirement plan took part in it. (See Table 6.7.)

Retirement plans may be one of two types: defined benefit or defined contribution. Defined benefit plans promise a specified monthly benefit at retirement. Most benefit plans of this type are protected by federal insurance provided through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. Defined contribution plans, on the other hand, do not promise a specific amount of benefits at an employee's retirement. Instead, the employer or the employee, or more commonly both, contribute a set amount of money (usually a percentage of annual salary) to the employee's retirement account. These contributions are generally invested in stock, real estate, or other investments. The balance in the account on retirement is available to the employee. Defined contribution plans include 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans, and employee stock ownership plans. Defined contribution plans were much more commonly available to workers in private industry than were defined benefit plans in 2007. (See Figure 6.1.)

In 2007 one in five workers in private industry (21%) had access to a defined benefit plan; almost all took part in these plans, because they generally require no

TABLE 6.4
Single coverage medical plans in private industry, by employer and employee premiums, March 2007

[All workers with single coverage medical plans = 100 percent]
Total Employee contribution not required Employee contribution required
Characteristics Percent of participating employees Average flat monthly employer premium Percent of participating employees Average flat monthly employer premium Percent of participating employees Average flat monthly employer premium Average flat monthly employee contribution
*The wage breakout is based on the average wage for each occupation surveyed, which may include workers both above and below the threshold.
Note: Because of rounding, sums of individual items may not equal totals.
SOURCE: Table 11. Medical Plans, Single Coverage: Employer and Employee Premiums by Employee Contribution Requirement, Private Industry Workers, National Compensation Survey, March 2007, in National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2007, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2007, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/sp/ebsm0006.pdf (accessed February 18, 2008)
All workers with single coverage medical plans 100 $293.25 24 $382.19 76 $265.74 $81.37
Worker characteristics
Management, professional, and related 100 293.74 21 355.26 79 277.73 79.97
Service 100 272.50 18 395.85 82 246.32 88.89
Sales and office 100 281.24 21 353.90 79 262.06 83.63
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance 100 350.37 38 467.49 62 278.37 82.21
Production, transportation, and material moving 100 286.82 26 365.77 74 258.43 75.38
Full time 100 293.71 24 381.90 76 266.38 80.67
Part time 100 285.50 23 387.22 77 254.81 93.04
Union 100 408.46 50 479.57 50 337.51 62.45
Nonunion 100 272.12 19 334.72 81 257.62 83.51
Average wage less than $15 per hour* 100 264.97 18 334.58 82 249.33 84.74
Average wage $15 per hour or higher* 100 310.99 27 402.53 73 277.24 79.00
Establishment characteristics
Goods producing 100 316.48 29 423.72 71 272.53 76.48
Service providing 100 284.66 22 361.53 78 263.46 83.00
1 to 99 workers 100 295.65 31 388.57 69 253.71 89.89
100 workers or more 100 291.49 18 374.16 82 273.16 76.10
Geographic areas
Metropolitan areas 100 297.17 24 391.33 76 267.20 81.33
Nonmetropolitan areas 100 270.98 21 321.56 79 257.78 81.56
New England 100 306.88 16 478.99 84 273.42 96.82
Middle Atlantic 100 310.74 27 392.86 73 280.16 79.79
East North Central 100 301.64 23 407.53 77 269.43 81.06
West North Central 100 303.72 25 399.77 75 271.89 77.38
South Atlantic 100 268.39 19 323.38 81 255.49 82.96
East South Central 100 245.03 16 307.96 84 232.61 84.61
West South Central 100 293.21 22 350.70 78 277.24 78.48
Mountain 100 297.90 23 418.44 77 262.47 85.42
Pacific 100 303.50 32 387.57 68 263.44 75.65

contribution from the employee. (See Table 6.7.) Over half (55%) of all workers had access to a defined contribution plan; 43% of all workers participated in such a plan. Only 77% of all workers with access to a defined contribution plan took part in it.

As with other benefits, managers and professionals were the most likely workers to have access to retirement benefits (76% of them did); service workers were least likely to have such access (36% of them did). (See Table 6.7.) Unionized workers were much more likely than nonunion workers to have access to retirement benefits (84% and 58%, respectively). Workers who earned $15 per hour or more were more likely than lower-paid workers to have retirement benefits (76% and 47%, respectively). Workers in establishments with one hundred or more workers were more likely than workers in smaller establishments to have access to retirement benefits (78% and 45%, respectively).

Although women have increasingly entered the workforce since the 1970s, elderly women continue to have lower retirement income than do men. As reported by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in Retirement Security: Women Face Challenges in Ensuring Financial Security in Retirement (October 2007, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08105.pdf), this is largely due to their lower labor force participation and lower average lifetime earnings. Therefore, women have less income from pensions and Social Security, both income-dependent sources of retirement benefits. This lower income is particularly problematic for divorced women and widowed women.

TABLE 6.5
Family coverage medical plans in private industry, by employer and employee premiums, March 2007

[All workers with family coverage medical plans = 100 percent]
Total Employee contribution not required Employee contribution required
Characteristics Percent of participating employees Average flat monthly employer premium Percent of participating employees Average flat monthly employer premium Percent of participating employees Average flat monthly employer premium Average flat monthly employee contribution
*The wage breakout is based on the average wage for each occupation surveyed, which may include workers both above and below the threshold.
Note: Because of rounding, sums of individual items may not equal totals.
SOURCE: Table 12. Medical Plans, Family Coverage: Employer and Employee Premiums by Employee Contribution Requirement, Private Industry Workers, National Compensation Survey, March 2007, in National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2007, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2007, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/sp/ebsm0006.pdf (accessed February 18, 2008)
All workers with family coverage medical plans 100 $664.04 13 $814.44 87 $642.02 $312.78
Worker characteristics
Management, professional, and related 100 702.15 9 810.82 91 691.43 313.42
Service 100 576.28 8 678.24 92 567.06 342.92
Sales and office 100 645.71 9 795.13 91 630.42 333.44
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance 100 659.83 26 839.20 74 595.82 314.33
Production, transportation, and material moving 100 683.19 18 844.44 82 648.82 263.68
Full time 100 666.82 13 823.89 87 643.76 311.94
Part time 100 614.21 12 637.67 88 610.93 327.75
Union 100 790.21 43 832.68 57 758.15 211.91
Nonunion 100 641.65 7 795.63 93 629.33 323.80
Average wage less than $15 per hour* 100 602.29 8 705.18 92 593.33 326.84
Average wage $15 per hour or higher* 100 702.52 16 849.05 84 675.14 303.21
Establishment characteristics
Goods producing 100 706.84 20 869.49 80 666.51 267.46
Service providing 100 648.36 10 775.06 90 634.02 327.58
1 to 99 workers 100 608.18 15 804.48 85 572.25 359.49
100 workers or more 100 704.14 11 824.65 89 689.50 280.99
Geographic areas
Metropolitan areas 100 670.64 13 815.33 87 648.13 315.15
Nonmetropolitan areas 100 626.35 9 806.67 91 608.87 299.92
New England 100 717.53 9 889.88 91 700.81 319.38
Middle Atlantic 100 711.96 17 792.19 83 695.66 299.81
East North Central 100 723.92 17 898.43 83 687.79 285.19
West North Central 100 658.46 15 790.69 85 635.56 294.00
South Atlantic 100 623.01 7 833.53 93 607.34 334.43
East South Central 100 584.50 6 816.51 94 568.80 294.46
West South Central 100 638.59 6 721.43 94 633.45 334.41
Mountain 100 620.32 11 809.18 89 596.74 359.24
Pacific 100 644.94 19 752.05 81 620.60 312.25

EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS. In most defined contribution retirement plans, such as the 401(k), employee contributions are made with pretax dollars. This means the employee's taxable income is reduced by the amount of the contribution. However, taxes are deferred, not eliminated. When the employee starts withdrawing funds from the plan, taxes must be paid on the pretax contributions, any employer-matching funds, and any earnings on these contributions.

All of these plans require a basic employee contribution, which may be matched by the employer. However, not all employers make matching contributions. Many plans allow an additional contribution by the employee in excess of the maximum amount matched by the employer. This is called a voluntary employee contribution.

Employee savings, thrift, and retirement benefit plans are expected to come under closer public and government scrutiny in the wake of individual and corporate losses caused by stock market fluctuations in the early 2000s. During the strong market years of the mid-to late-1990s, some industry leaders and politicians believed that even government-mandated programs such as Social Security should rely more heavily on private-market investment at the discretion of the individual worker. As the stock market dropped in value at the start of the decade, particularly following the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., in September

TABLE 6.6
Percent of workers in private industry with access to selected health benefits, March 2007

[All workers = 100 percent]
Characteristic Health savings accounts Health-care reimbursement accounts Wellness programs Fitness centers Employee assistance programs
*The wage breakout is based on the average wage for each occupation surveyed, which may include workers both above and below the threshold.
SOURCE: Table 6. Selected Health Benefits: Access, Private Industry Workers, National Compensation Survey, March 2007, in National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2007, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2007, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/sp/ebsm0006.pdf (accessed February 18, 2008)
All workers 8 33 25 13 42
Worker characteristics
Management, professional, and related 12 55 42 25 60
Service 2 18 13 9 26
Sales and office 11 35 24 11 45
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance 3 19 16 5 27
Production, transportation, and material moving 6 27 23 10 41
Full time 9 38 28 14 46
Part time 4 17 15 8 29
Union 3 37 37 11 64
Nonunion 8 33 24 13 39
Average wage less than $15 per hour* 6 23 15 8 31
Average wage $15 per hour or higher* 10 45 36 19 54
Establishment characteristics
Goods producing 7 31 25 13 39
Service providing 8 34 25 13 43
1 to 99 workers 4 17 11 4 21
100 workers or more 11 51 40 22 65
Geographic areas
Metropolitan areas 8 34 26 13 43
Nonmetropolitan areas 5 26 18 12 34
New England 8 37 27 18 42
Middle Atlantic 5 31 25 14 39
East North Central 8 35 29 15 42
West North Central 7 40 26 16 42
South Atlantic 10 32 22 9 46
East South Central 8 25 20 16 41
West South Central 7 33 21 10 40
Mountain 8 36 22 11 39
Pacific 8 31 27 12 42

2001, opponents of privatizing Social Security argued that individual workers should not have to shoulder increased risk in the investment of their own Social Security funds.

Laws related to employee retirement plans changed following the 2001 accounting scandal and subsequent bankruptcy of Enron Corporation, which left employee 401(k) accounts ravaged. Many Enron employees, with management's encouragement, had heavily invested their retirement savings in their own company. A large number of current and former Enron employees lost their entire retirement savings when the company collapsed. In the aftermath of the Enron scandal, Congress began to discuss restricting the percentage of an employee's 401(k) that can be invested in the employee's own company. Congress passed a Pension Protection Act in 2006 that made employer retirement savings plans less vulnerable. The legislation included provisions addressing employee retirement income security, the tax ramifications of savings plans, benefit accrual standards, and health care affordability.

Social Security

The Social Security Act of 1935 created the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Program, which provided retirement benefits to workers aged sixty-five and older. It financed these benefits through a payroll tax, paid in part by employers and in part by employees. By January 2007, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) in The Basics of Social Security (May 2007, http://www.ebri.org/pdf/publications/facts/0507fact.pdf), retired workers received an average monthly Social Security benefit of $1,044. A retired couple, both receiving benefits, averaged $1,713 per month.

The EBRI indicated that the aging of the U.S. population and the expected retirement of many baby-boomers in the coming two decades will put a severe strain on Social Security funds. Using intermediate cost assumptions, the

TABLE 6.7
Percent of workers in private industry with access to and participating in retirement benefits, by selected characteristics, March 2007

[All workers = 100 percent]
All retirement benefitsa Defined benefit Defined contribution
Characteristics Access Participation Take-up rateb Access Participation Take-up rateb Access Participation Take-up rateb
a Includes defined benefit pension plans and defined contribution retirement plans. The total is less than the sum of the individual items because many employees participated in both types of plans.
b The take-up rate is an estimate of the percentage of workers with access to a plan who participate in the plan, rounded for presentation.
c The wage breakout is based on the average wage for each occupation surveyed, which may include workers both above and below the threshold.
SOURCE: Table 1 Retirement Benefits: Access, Participation, and Take-Up Rates, Private Industry Workers, National Compensation Survey, March 2007, in National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in Private Industry in the United States, March 2007, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2007, http://www.bls.gov/ncs/ebs/sp/ebsm0006.pdf (accessed February 18, 2008)
All workers 61 51 84 21 20 95 55 43 77
Worker characteristics
Management, professional, and related 76 69 91 29 28 97 71 60 84
Service 36 25 69 8 7 94 32 20 63
Sales and office 64 54 84 19 17 93 60 47 78
Natural resources, construction, and maintenance 61 51 84 26 25 97 51 40 77
Production, transportation, and material moving 65 54 83 26 25 96 56 41 74
Full time 70 60 85 24 23 96 64 50 79
Part time 31 23 73 10 9 90 27 18 65
Union 84 81 96 69 67 97 49 41 85
Nonunion 58 47 82 15 15 95 56 43 76
Average wage less than $15 per hourc 47 36 75 11 10 92 44 30 70
Average wage $15 per hour or higherc 76 69 90 33 32 97 69 57 83
Establishment characteristics
Goods producing 70 61 86 29 28 98 62 49 79
Service providing 58 48 83 19 18 94 53 41 77
1 to 99 workers 45 37 82 9 9 96 42 33 79
100 workers or more 78 66 85 34 32 95 70 53 76
Geographic areas
Metropolitan areas 61 52 85 22 21 95 56 43 78
Nonmetropolitan areas 57 44 78 14 14 96 53 38 72
New England 57 50 88 21 20 96 53 44 83
Middle Atlantic 62 55 90 27 26 97 53 44 83
East North Central 64 56 87 25 24 96 56 45 80
West North Central 63 55 87 21 20 96 56 45 81
South Atlantic 62 50 80 17 17 96 59 44 75
East South Central 66 46 71 14 13 92 64 42 66
West South Central 55 44 80 17 16 95 51 38 74
Mountain 63 50 79 18 16 92 60 44 74
Pacific 57 48 84 21 20 95 49 38 77

government estimates that the trust funds that finance Social Security benefits (through a combination of taxes and interest income) will become bankrupt by 2041.

Many proposals have been put forth to keep the Social Security trust fund solvent. The proposals all would cut benefits for future retirees, especially for those born later, according to the EBRI in Estimating the Value of Changes in OASI Benefits under Social Security Reforms (June 2006, http://www.ebri.org/publications/notes/index.cfm?fa=notesDisp&content_id=3643). For example, benefit cuts for people born in 1962 might range from $300 annually for those with the smallest benefits to about $3,000 annually for those entitled to the largest benefits. However, workers born in 1997 could see reductions in annual benefits ranging from $2,200 to $10,370. Therefore, many retirees in the future will not be able to maintain their standard of living without saving additional amounts of money themselves to supplement their reduced Social Security benefits. This prospect makes retirement benefits offered by employers as part of the employment package even more valuable.

Americans are very uncomfortable with the crisis facing the Social Security system, as it puts their overall quality of life in retirement years at risk. Lydia Saad of the Gallup Poll reported in State of the Union: Both Good and Bad (January 24, 2008, http://www.gallup.com/poll/103918/Americans-State-Union-Ratings-All-Bad.aspx) that less than a third of people surveyed (31%) in January 2008 were satisfied with the state of the nation's Social Security and Medicare (health insurance for seniors) systems. Additional Gallup data from 2005 (http://www.gallup.com/poll/1693/Social-Security.aspx) indicated that 45% of Americans agreed that immediate changes were needed to ensure the long-term future of the Social Security system. Another third (36%) believed changes were needed within the next decade, and nearly two in ten (19%) either had no opinion or did not think major changes were needed before 2015. More than half of poll respondents from April and May 2005 (54%) opposed a proposal that would cut Social Security benefits for middle and high income workers even if benefits for lower income workers and those born before 1950 were not affected. Nearly four in ten (38%) favored this idea.

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