Earnings in electric and gas utilities Essay

Occupational pay levels in the Nation’s privately operatedelectric and gas utility systems typically rose 45 to 55 percent betweenFebruary 1978 and October 1982, according to a recent industry wagesurvey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By comparison,wages and salaries of all private industry workers covered by theBureau’s Employment Cost Index rose 45 percent, and those of alltransportation and public utility workers rose 50 percent, between thefirst quarter of 1978 and the fourth quarter of 1982. Slightly more than 100 physical, office clerical, and professionaland technical occupations were selected to represent the utilitysystems’ wage structure in the October 1982 survey. Average hourlyearnings among the physical occupations studied ranged from $7.51 anhour for janitors to 16.27 for watch engineers, but typically fellbetween $10 and $13.

(See table 1.) Journeymen line workers,numerically the most important physical occupation studied (23,938workers), averaged $12.72 an hour. This compared with $9.17 an hour formeter readers and $10.82 for gas appliance service technicians, twoother major groups.

The physical jobs studied accounted for nearlyone-half of the 361,000 nonsupervisory physical workers within scope ofthe survey. Averages for the office clerical jobs studied ranged from $5.69 anhour for messengers to $9.35 for secretaries, numbering nearly 10,000,were by far the largest clerical group studied. Hourly pay levels for professional and technical occupations rangedfrom $8.68 for computer data librarians to $14.53 for computer systemsanalysts. Drafters, the most numerous group, averaged $10.

48 an hour. Occupational averages varied by region and by type of utilitysystem. In general, averages were highest in the Pacific region and incombination electric and gas system, and lowest in the Southeast and ingas distribution systems. Table 1 illustrates the regional variations,with the largest differences commonly associated with the lower payingoccupations. For example, janitors in the Pacific States averaged 47percent more than their counterparts in the Southeast ($8.60 versus$5.87), compared with a 36-percent differential for watch engineers($18.26 versus $13.

38), and one of only 18 percent for welders ($13.07over $11.05). Virtually all workers were in utilities providing paid holidays,paid vacations, and various health, insurance, and retirement benefitsto physical and office workers.

The most common provisions were 12holidays annually and 2 weeks of vacation pay after 1 year of service, 3weeks after 10 years, 4 weeks after 15 years, and 5 weeks after 25years. Nearly all workers were eligible for life, hospitalization,surgical, and basic and major medical insurance, and retirement pensionplans, Accidental death and dismemberment insurance, dental insurance,and sick leave plans also were widespread in the industry, each applyingto at least two-thirds of the workers. Most of the health, insurance,and retirement plans were paid for entirely by the employer. Electric and gas utility systems within scope of the surveyemployed about 521,000 nonsurpervisory employees in October 1982, anincrease of 9 percentfrom February 1978. Over the period, employment grew 19 percent inelectric systems and 8 percent in gas distribution systems, remainedstable in combination electric and gas systems, and fell slightly in gastransmission systems.

Slightly more than three-fourths of the physical workers and aboutone-third of the office workers were covered by labor-managementagreements in October 1982. The major union for both types of workerswas the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (AFL-CIO). A comprehensive report on the 1982 survey, Industry Wage Survey:Electric and Gas Utilities, October 1982, Bulletin 2218 (Bureau of LaborStatistics, 1984), is for sale by the Superintendent of Documents,Government Printing Office, Washington, D.

C. 20402. The reportprovides additional information on occupational earnings and employeebenefits.

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