May, 2000, Vol. 123, No. 5
Labor month in review
College degrees in industry
Pay premiums up the ranks
The May Review
From their very beginning before the turn of the 20th century, Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer expenditure surveys have been primarily regarded as a source of weighting schemes for price or cost indexes of one sort or another. One of the first such surveys actually conceived of consumer spending as a cost of production. The data collected in these surveys have, however, always provided useful insights into consumer behavior as well. This issue present three such analyses.
Geoffrey D. Paulin investigates the increasingly important role of older consumers. Older Americans are projected to become a larger share of the population, and the average real spending of older families has been growing at a much faster rate than that of families headed by a person younger than 65. Paulin’s regressions investigate the degree of homogeneity of older consumers’ spending patterns and the degree to which those patterns may be changing over time.
Lucilla Tan reports on the demographic characteristics and expenditure patterns of families receiving public assistance. Almost 14 percent of noninstitutional civilian households receive at least one of the following: supplementary security income (SSI), welfare, medicaid, food stamps, a housing subsidy, or public housing. Not unexpectedly, basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter account for a significantly larger share of the assisted households’ expenditures.
Geoffrey D. Paulin returns to analyze consumers’ spending on eating out—"food away from home" in the Bureau’s more prosaic wording. Just slightly fewer than three-quarters of "consumer units" (our fanciful phrase for families) reported eating out at restaurants, carryouts, fast-food stores, or other eating establishments during the average week. Household spending on meals away from the house was about $1,477 over the course of a year, nearly a third of total spending on food.
A total of slightly more than 1.7 million injuries and illnesses that required recuperation away from work beyond the day of the incident were reported in selected private industry workplaces during 1998. The total number of these cases has declined in each year since 1992.
Men accounted for 2 out of 3 of the 1.7 million cases in 1998, a proportion somewhat higher than their share (59 percent) of the hours worked by all private wage and salary workers. Workers aged 24 and under accounted for 15 percent of the cases and 14 percent of the total hours worked by all private wage and salary workers. Workers aged 25 to 44 accounted for 56 percent of the cases and 55 percent of the hours worked. Workers aged 45 and older accounted for 27 percent of the cases and 30 percent of the hours worked. For more information, see "Lost-worktime Injuries and Illnesses: Characteristics and Resulting Time Away from Work, 1998," news release USDL 00–115.
College degrees in industry
In 1998, 39 percent of workers in the services industry held at least a bachelor’s degree, the highest percentage of all the industries. Close behind the services industry were finance, insurance, and real estate and government (public administration)—in both of these industries, 37 percent of workers had attained a bachelor’s degree or higher.
The percentage of workers with at least a bachelor’s degree was below 15 percent in three industries. In wholesale and retail trade, 14 percent of workers were college graduates and in agriculture, forestry, and fishing, 13 percent were. In construction, just 10 percent of workers held a bachelor’s degree or higher. Find out more about characteristics of industries in Career Guide to Industries, 2000–2001 Edition, BLS Bulletin 2523.
There were 709 job-related homicides in 1998, a 34-percent decline from 1994. During the 7-year history of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, the highest number of job-related homicides—1,080—occurred in 1994. The number of work-related homicides has declined in each year since then. The biggest 1-year decline in homicides—a decrease of 18 percent—took place between 1997 and 1998.
While many may assume that most work-related homicides are crimes of passion or anger, committed by disgruntled coworkers, spouses, or acquaintances, this is not the case. Of the 428 homicide cases in 1998 where the victim-perpetrator association could be identified, fully two-thirds involved robbery. Coworkers and former coworkers accounted for 15 percent of identifiable cases of workplace homicide, acquaintances for 7 percent, and relatives for 4 percent. Thus, these three categories taken together accounted for barely a quarter of the total. For further information, see "Work-related Homicides: The Facts," by Eric F. Sygnatur and Guy A. Toscano, Compensation and Working Conditions, Spring 2000.
Pay premiums up the ranks
The wage differentials between adjacent levels of the supervisory hierarchy provide an interesting insight: The differential increases as the level of supervision goes up. First-line supervisors, on average, earn 13 percent more than team leaders. Second-line managers earn 59 percent more than first-line, and third-line managers earn 73 percent more than second-line.
The small differential between team leaders and first-line supervisors is best explained by looking at their occupations. Team leaders are often found in professional occupations, which tend to be higher paying. On the other hand, there are a large number of first-line supervisors in service occupations, which tend to be lower paying. See James Smith, "Supervisory Duties and the National Compensation Survey," Compensation and Working Conditions, Spring 2000.
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