Earnings in Electric and Gas Utilities

Monthly Labor Review, December 1984 | Go to article overview

Earnings in Electric and Gas Utilities


Occupational pay levels in the Nation's privately operated electric and gas utility systems typically rose 45 to 55 percent between February 1978 and October 1982, according to a recent industry wage survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By comparison, wages and salaries of all private industry workers covered by the Bureau's Employment Cost Index rose 45 percent, and those of all transportation and public utility workers rose 50 percent, between the first quarter of 1978 and the fourth quarter of 1982.

Slightly more than 100 physical, office clerical, and professional and technical occupations were selected to represent the utility systems' wage structure in the October 1982 survey. Average hourly earnings among the physical occupations studied ranged from $7.51 an hour for janitors to 16.27 for watch engineers, but typically fell between $10 and $13. (See table 1.) Journeymen line workers, numerically the most important physical occupation studied (23,938 workers), averaged $12.72 an hour. This compared with $9.17 an hour for meter readers and $10.82 for gas appliance service technicians, two other major groups. The physical jobs studied accounted for nearly one-half of the 361,000 nonsupervisory physical workers within scope of the survey.

Averages for the office clerical jobs studied ranged from $5.69 an hour 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 ranged from $8.68 for computer data librarians to $14.53 for computer systems analysts. Drafters, the most numerous group, averaged $10.48 an hour.

Occupational averages varied by region and by type of utility system. In general, averages were highest in the Pacific region and in combination electric and gas system, and lowest in the Southeast and in gas distribution systems. Table 1 illustrates the regional variations, with the largest differences commonly associated with the lower paying occupations. For example, janitors in the Pacific States averaged 47 percent more than their counterparts in the Southeast ($8. …

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