BLR News


BLR Wage Survey Finds Rank and File Workers Caught in Unlikely Triangle

Old Saybrook, CT – June 7, 2005 – This isn’t supposed to happen when the news on the economic front is this good. But the fact is that 13 of 46 job positions in Business & Legal Reports’ 2005 Survey of Nonexempt Compensation experienced at least a marginal decrease in hourly wages. Those 13 positions showed decreases of between -.06% and -5.81% versus the 2004 survey.

Improved pay rates did come to 32 of the 46 jobs surveyed, and one job stayed the same. More than 4,100 organizations participated in the survey conducted in January of 2005.

Hourly Wages Fall in 2005 Based on the mean of the mid-50% weighted data for all positions, response to BLR’s survey indicates that nationwide, hourly workers experienced a –1.13% decrease in 2005 pay. The Far West and New England/Middle Atlantic regions showed the biggest decreases, while the Central/Rocky Mountain/Southwest was the only area with more than a token wage increase.

Top Hourly Positions Not surprisingly, higher skilled jobs tacked on the biggest pay increases, ranging from .28% to 8.8%. The most highly paid position in BLR’s survey, and reported on the website for compensation professionals, was Power line Installer and Repairer at $20.88 per hour. In second place was Toolmaker/Modelmaker at $20.20 per hour. One of the highest year-to-year increases in wages went to Plumber/Pipefitter, with an 8.59% pay increase. Worst performing job was retail sales clerk at $8.91 an hour, where wages fell -5.81%.

“There has to be a complex set of circumstances behind these pay numbers,” commented Susan Schoenfeld, BLR’s senior compensation editor. “The job figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are generally positive, along with productivity and corporate profits. But whether it’s outsourcing, increased healthcare costs, or high oil prices – the economic benefit is not passing through to hourly workers like it might be expected during this relatively prosperous period.”

Executive Summary Employers or journalists may obtain a free Executive Summary of BLR’s 2005 Survey of Non-Exempt Compensation at

Old Saybrook, Conn.-based Business & Legal Reports, Inc. has published plain-English HR and compensation compliance and training materials since 1977. Contact BLR: 800-727-5257 or