Wages rise in county, but area still ranks near bottom

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The average weekly wage in Oneida County continues to be at the bottom among the state’s 18 largest counties, although it did rise 2.6 percent between mid-2017 and mid-2018, says a new federal report.

The $833 average weekly wage countywide as of the 2018 second quarter, up from $810 previously reported for mid-2017, grew at a pace below the statewide average increase of 4.5 percent, according to a report this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

For the state’s counties overall, the average weekly wage was $1,297, with New York County/Manhattan having the top average at $2,025. Eight other counties among the largest 18 also had averages higher than $1,000, with the only upstate location in that group being Albany County at $1,138.

After Oneida County, the next lowest average weekly wage among the 18 largest counties was Broome County, at $866. Meanwhile, neighboring Onondaga County’s average of $984 was tied for sixth-highest in the 18-county group.

Separately, among average weekly wages for smaller neighboring counties, Oneida County again surpassed Herkimer, $777; Lewis, $807; Madison, $805.

BLS Economist Bruce Bergman said Tuesday that while Oneida County was below the state’s average wage increase, “there is a bright side to the numbers” in that the BLS Consumer Price Index for the Northeast rose 2.6 percent from mid-2017 to mid-2018. This meant that Oneida County’s average wage increase “did keep pace with the average change in consumer prices for the region,” he added.

The wage gains in Oneida County “are in part due to wage growth in manufacturing,” Bergman observed. “Average weekly wages in the sector were up almost 5 percent over the year.”

Bergman added “a few other private industry sectors also contributed to the increase, including accommodation and food services, administrative and support and waste management and remediation services which include employment services, temporary help, and finance and insurance.”

Citing differing factors within industries, Bergman noted “gains in employment and wages in some sectors, like the administrative sector, but in others, such as finance, employment growth was limited.” He also commented that “despite above-average employment growth, average wages among the county’s private educational services sector failed to keep pace with the all-industry average.” He explained it may be “attributable to new hires coming in at lower rates than the senior employees they are replacing, or it could just have to do with the job mix,” in that “most of the new workers are entering lower-paid occupations.”

Regarding Oneida County categories that were weaker, Bergman said “transportation and warehousing had a decline in employment, and professional and technical services also lost jobs.” He remarked “total wages in these sectors were down and growth in average weekly wages lagged the rest of the county.”

Bergman pointed out that wage calculations in the BLS report may include other payments, such as bonuses.

Among some other areas of the state, average weekly wages by county as of mid-2018 included Erie, $949; Jefferson, $800; Monroe, $996; Niagara, $810; Oswego, $929; Saratoga, $995; Schenectady, $1,076; Steuben, $1,055; Tompkins, $1,014; Yates, $679.

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