Competitive compensation

Everything is relative, but how relative your business’ compensation is could have a profound effect on your ability to attract and retain employees.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published its National Compensation Survey, allowing employers and employees to see just how relative their wages are.

The survey questioned businesses with 50 workers or more and included goods and service industries as well as state and local governments. It included 480 occupations from the Cleveland-Akron area and questioned business in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit counties. Data was collected between June 2000 and July 2001.

According to the survey, the average wage of an employee in the Cleveland-Akron metropolitan area was $17.38 an hour; white-collar workers averaged slightly more than $20 an hour, while blue-collar workers, who represent 30 percent of the work force, averaged $15 an hour.

Ronald M. Gyzicki, regional economist for the office of Economic Analysis and Information, says these numbers are important to businesses.

“Data provided by the survey can be used by businesses for establishing pay plans, making decisions concerning plant relocation and in collective bargaining negotiations,” he says.

Survey results are broken out by occupation and include differences in union vs. nonunion positions. In the Cleveland-Akron area, “union workers in blue collar jobs averaged $17.91 per hour, while their nonunion counterparts make $12.91.”

The survey also points out regional wages differences.

Cleveland beat out Cincinnati-Hamilton, Dayton-Springfield and Youngstown-Warren by as much as $1 an hour on average. Youngstown came in at $16.17 on average for all occupations ,while its blue-collar wages were, on average, the highest of the five regional areas at $17.15.

Employers can review pay scales for a wide variety of occupations in more than 100 regions across the country.

“With this information, companies can target where they want to be,” says Gyzicki.

Among the other information available from the BLS are consumer price index, producer price index, consumer expenditure survey and census of fatal occupation injuries. Local and regional reports are available from the Chicago regional office at and on the Midwest economy at

The best thing about the survey, according to Gyzicki, is that “a lot of companies pay thousands for wage surveys. Our material is free.”

How to reach: Bureau of Labor Statistics, (312) 353-1880 or

Bureau of Labor Statistics