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March, 1987, Vol. 110, No. 3
BLS prepares to broaden scope
of its white-collar pay survey
Over the last 25 years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual Survey of Professional, Administrative, Technical, and Clerical Pay (PATC survey) has become a key source of information on salaries for a number of occupations. For example, the 1985 survey reported on 25 occupationsranging from file clerk and drafter to attorney and engineerby salary and employment. Because occupations typically are divided by BLS into two or more work levels (defined by specific duties and responsibilities), pay variations related to level characteristics are readily identifiable.1
An expansion of survey coverage over the 1986-87 period will increase the usefulness of PATC findings. Prior to 1986, the survey was limited to medium and large establishments. It covered most private sector industries but excluded important portions of the services industries, such as hotels, hospitals, and educational institutions. By mid-1987, the survey will have expanded to smaller establishments and all private services industries. In addition, BLS is planning test studies in 1987 and 1988 to assist in developing a new, broad-based survey of white-collar pay and benefits in the private and public sectors that will eventually replace the PATC survey.
The 1986-87 coverage enhances the occupational data reported previously in the PATC survey. The expansion also permits additional occupations to be surveyed, especially in the health-related field, and allows more intensive analysis of findings.2
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1 The surveys have usually found larger pay differences between the various skill levels of the same occupation than across occupations at the same skill level. For example, in march 1986, average annual salaries in the following occupational work levels (all evaluated as equivalent to level 13 occupations in the Federal Government's General Schedule) fell within a 9-percent range: Engineer VI ($58,883), Chemist VI ($60,796), Accountant VI ($61,546), Attorney IV ($63,933), and Chief Accountant III ($62,880). Meanwhile, pay averages within these occupations commonly differed by 15 to 25 percent between adjacent skill levels.
2 For analyses based on PATC survey data, see Martin E. Personick and Carl B. Barsky, "White-collar pay levels linked to corporate work force size," Monthly Labor Review, May 1982, pp. 23-28; Martin e. Personick, "White-collar pay determination under range-of-rate systems," Monthly Labor Review, December 1984, pp. 25-30; and Mark S. Sieling, "Staffing patterns prominent in female-male earnings gap," Monthly Labor Review, June 1984, pp. 29-33.
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