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Pay and access to benefits rise as job level rises

July 07, 2017

Job levels are a measure of the knowledge and complexity required to do a certain job. They are determined by assessing the work duties of a job across four characteristics—knowledge, job controls and complexity, contacts, and physical environment. The more knowledge and complexity a job requires, the more average hourly pay rises. Workers in level 1 jobs earned on average $9.16 per hour in March 2016, while workers in level 12 jobs earned an average of $74.80 per hour.

Average hourly wages and salaries by job level, private industry, March 2016
Job level Average hourly wages

1

$9.16

2

10.34

3

12.72

4

16.28

5

20.14

6

24.09

7

27.31

8

31.51

9

37.44

10

45.41

11

54.56

12

74.80

The percentage of workers with access to medical care benefits, retirement benefits, and paid leave increases steadily from job level 1 to job level 5 before flattening out for higher job levels. In March 2016, 27 percent of workers in level 1 jobs had access to medical care benefits, compared with 81 percent of workers in level 5 jobs. The proportion of workers with access to paid vacation was 40 percent in level 1 jobs and 89 percent in level 5 jobs. 

Access to employer-provided benefits and paid leave by job level, private industry, March 2016
Job level Medical care benefits Retirement benefits Paid sick leave Paid vacation Paid holidays

1

27% 35% 30% 40% 41%

2

37 47 41 56 58

3

54 56 53 67 68

4

72 67 67 81 82

5

81 73 71 89 87

6

78 72 71 84 85

7

85 78 75 88 90

8

91 90 87 92 93

9

86 83 81 87 88

10

94 84 87 94 92

11

94 84 92 95 95

12

95 95 86 90 92

More than two-thirds of workers (70 percent) work jobs in levels 1 through 5. About 5 percent of workers work jobs in levels 11 and 12. Although job levels reach level 15, less than 0.5 percent of all workers are in the highest three job levels combined. Therefore, these workers are not included in this analysis. Common level 1 occupations include cashiers and stock clerks. Bookkeeping clerks, licensed vocational nurses, and customer service representatives are some of the occupations represented in job level 5. Level 9 includes (but is not exclusive to) registered nurses. Software developers, financial managers, and post-secondary teachers are a few of the level 12 occupations.

These data are from the National Compensation Survey program. For more information, see the Beyond the Numbers article "How pay and benefits change as job level rises: data from the National Compensation Survey" by Kristen Monaco. 

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Pay and access to benefits rise as job level rises on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/pay-and-access-to-benefits-rise-as-job-level-rises.htm (visited August 11, 2020).

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