Hourly rate in region lags behind national average

Published Jun 21, 2018 at 4:00pm

The average hourly wage in Oneida and Herkimer counties is about 11 percent below the nationwide average, according to a new federal report.

As of May 2017, the average area wage was $21.75 per hour, compared to the national average of $24.34, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. It refers to the two counties as the Utica-Rome metropolitan statistical area.

Wages in the area were lower than national averages in 16 of the 22 major occupational groups. Some of the largest gaps were in categories for computer and mathematical; management; and arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media.

In contrast, groups with higher wages than their respective national averages included protective service; legal; food preparation and serving related; and farming, fishing, and forestry.

Among occupations in protective service are firefighting and prevention workers, law enforcement workers, correctional officers, and security guards, said BLS Economist Bruce Bergman. He noted that locally, correctional officers and jailers account for one out of every three protective service workers, adding that “federal and state prisons tend to have higher wages than other types of correctional institutions.”

The overall categories, and their average hourly wages:

• Management — $52.39 locally; $57.65 nationally.

• Business and financial operations — $32.44 locally; $36.70 nationally.

• Computer and mathematical — $37.67 locally; $43.18 nationally.

• Architecture and engineering — $38.65 locally; $41.44 nationally.

• Life, physical, and social science — $34.68 locally; $35.76 nationally.

• Community and social service — $23.40 locally; $23.10 nationally.

• Legal — $56.05 locally; $51.62 nationally.

• Education, training, and library — $25.51 locally; $26.67 nationally.

• Arts, design, entertainment, sports and media — $23.35 locally; $28.34 nationally.

• Healthcare practitioners and technical — $34.46 locally; $38.83 nationally.

• Healthcare support — $14.58 locally; $15.05 nationally.

• Protective service — $25.35 locally; $22.69 nationally.

• Food preparation and serving related — $12.89 locally; $11.88 nationally.

• Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance — $13.09 locally; $13.91 nationally.

• Personal care and service — $13.48 locally; $13.11 nationally.

• Sales and related — $17.53 locally; $19.56 nationally.

• Office and administrative support — $17.14 locally; $18.24 nationally.

• Farming, fishing and forestry — $18.94 locally; $13.87 nationally.

• Construction and extraction — $23.10 locally; $24.01 nationally.

• Installation, maintenance and repair — $20.98 locally; $23.02 nationally.

• Production — $17.05 locally; $18.30 nationally.

• Transportation and material moving — $16.14 locally; $17.82 nationally.

Among groups with lower wages locally, the business and financial occupations on a national basis are more highly paid in finance and insurance, information, and professional and technical services, Bergman said. Those “are all industries that are under-represented in Utica-Rome, compared to the national employment distribution,” he explained. Similar factors may partly explain results in other groups, he added.

Additional factors that may affect the local and national pay differences, said Bergman, are higher unemployment rates in Oneida and Herkimer counties compared to national rates. He also cited cost-of-living factors, commenting that average annual expenditures of consumers who live outside of large urban areas tend to be less than other consumers.

Local employment was especially concentrated in certain occupational groups, the report said, including personal care and service; education, training and library; healthcare practitioners and technical. Those three groups comprised over 21 percent of total local employment, compared to over 15 percent of total employment nationally.

The percentages in some other local groups were considered to be significantly lower than nationally, including management; sales and related; and transportation and material moving. They comprised 18 percent of local employment, compared to over 22 percent nationally.