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July 1982, Vol. 105, No. 7
Clerical pay differentials
in metropolitan areas, 1961-80
Mark S. Sieling
In 1980, salaries of office clerical workers varied widely among 52 areas included in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' area wage survey program. For example, in Davenport-Rock Island-Molinethe highest paying areaclerical pay rates average about 50 percent more than those in Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Portsmouththe lowest paying area. Generally, salaries were higher in larger areas. The highest salaries were in North Central and Western areas, followed by Northeastern areas, and were lowest in Southern areas. Industry mix was an important determinant of an area's relative pay level.
The pay structure in 1980 resembled the pattern in 1961, although significant developments took place within this period. During the 1960s, area differentials gradually diminished. However, in the 1970s, the pattern reversed, and much of the growing uniformity disappeared. These contrasting developments can be attributed, in part, to the differing economic environments in the two decades. The 1960s was a period of almost uninterrupted prosperity, with only moderate rates of price increases during much of the decade; in contrast, the 1970s were characterized by both economic instability and inflationary pressures.
When the areas were ranked by the size of their pay relatives, the order of ranking in 1980 was similar to that of 1961. However, pay relatives in some areas changed substantially over the 20 years, but the changes generally reflected a cumulation of small year-to-year adjustments.
This excerpt is from an article published in the July 1982 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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