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February 1989, Vol. 112, No. 2
Variations in holiday, vacation, and area pay levels
John E. Buckley
Workers with above-average holiday and vacation benefits are likely to be in areas that have above-average pay levels and that are located outside the South. For blue-collar workers, leave time also is likely to be greater in areas with larger establishments and a relatively high incidence of unionization and manufacturing activity. Detroit, for example, has these characteristics, and combined holiday and vacation time for production workers in the area is about 20 percent (nearly 4 days) above the national average. San Antonio, in contrast, is an area with below average pay, unionization, and manufacturing activity levels, and with smaller than average establishment employment. Leave levels in the area also are considerably below the national norms.
The data used in this analysis come largely from surveys conducted in 68 localities included in the Bureau's Area Wage Survey (AWS) program. This program provides information on occupational pay and employee benefits derived from a statistical sample of the Nation's metropolitan areas.1 The program provides wage data (straight-time earnings) for workers in selected narrowly defined occupations, such as maintenance mechanic, janitor, secretary, and computer programmer, reflecting the typical practice of setting wage and salary rates by job performed. Information on benefit plans is obtained only for two broad employment categories-production and office workers-because employers generally provide uniform benefits within each of these groups.2
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1 Two relatively small Area Wage Survey (AWS) areas were excluded from the analysis that follows because the number of occupations reported was insufficient for interarea calculations. Also, in a few other areas, pay calculations could not be made for one or more of the four occupational groups studied.
Prior to 1987, the AWS program consisted of annual surveys conducted in 70 metropolitan areas selected to represent all 262 Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas (SMSA's), excluding those in Alaska and Hawaii, as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget through February 1974. In 1987, this program was replaced by a program of 32 areas studied annually and 58 areas biennially (half one year and half the next). Thus, 61 areas are surveyed each year. The 90 areas now in the program comprise a sample of the 326 metropolitan areas recognized as of October 1984. For additional information on the program, see Laura Scofea, "BLS area wage surveys will cover more areas," Monthly Labor Review, June 1986, pp. 19 -23.
2 In the AWS program, benefit provisions that apply to a majority of the production (or office) workers in an establishment are considered to apply to all such workers in the establishment. Conversely, a provision is considered nonexistent if it applies to fewer than a majority of the production (or office) workers.
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