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MAHONING VALLEY Data compare area wages with state



Published: Wed, January 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The data may be less accurate than in past years because 86 businesses refused to participate.

By CYNTHIA VINARSKY

VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Blue-collar workers in the Mahoning Valley are taking home higher wages than those in four other major Ohio metropolitan areas, according to a new federal study, but the region's white-collar workers are on the low end of the scale.

The annual National Compensation Survey by the U.S. Department of Labor indicates the average blue-collar worker in the Youngstown-Warren area was earning $17.15 per hour in April 2001 when the study was completed.

Meanwhile, a blue-collar worker in Cleveland earned $15.14; a Columbus worker, $14.30; a Dayton worker, $15.49; and a Cincinnati-area worker, $14.78.

Blue-collar employees represent 42 percent of the Valley's work force, the study said.

White-collar scales: White-collar pay scales went the opposite direction, with a Mahoning Valley employee earning $18.20 an hour; a Dayton worker, $18.71; a Columbus worker, $21.05; a Cleveland worker; $20.92; and a Cincinnati worker; $20.47.

White-collar workers make up 36 percent of the Youngstown-Warren work force.

The Valley's overall pay rate was $16.17 per hour, and its average pay for service workers was $9.61 per hour. Both totals were the lowest in their categories for the five communities surveyed.

Ronald Guzicki, an economist for the Department of Labor, said the report was to be based on a survey of 204 firms representing 116,300 workers in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, with 81 percent coming from private industry.

The survey presents straight-time earnings for all occupations, with overtime not included. Only establishments with 50 or more employees are surveyed, including private industry and state and local governments.

However, 86 of the companies selected for the study refused to participate, reducing the accuracy of the data. Businesses are chosen at random, Guzicki explained, so economists conducting the study cannot choose replacements for those that refuse.

Higher refusal rate: He said the refusal rate was higher than usual, but economists are getting more refusals all over the country. He said most businesses who refuse argue that they are already busy with government forms that are required -- the compensation survey is optional.

The labor department does the study yearly to determine national average salaries for most occupations, Guzicki said.

The data is useful for corporate human resource officers who want to make sure their pay rates are competitive, he said. The report, available free at the labor department's Web site, www.bls.gov, provides a detailed pay rate scale listing several salaries for each job description based on experience and responsibilities.

Companies are not required to participate in the study, Guzicki said, but department economists want to get the word out that participation is a public service because it helps to ensure accurate economic data.




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