Public Policy Institute of New York State, Inc.

Wage data explanation

The wage data attached show 2001-2008 private-sector annual salary for the following industries:

  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Trade, transportation, utilities
  • Education and Health Services
  • Professional and Business Services
  • Financial Activities
  • Information

These industries were chosen because they encompass most major employers in the state, as well as most of the 30 fastest-growing jobs in the nation.

For each industry, 2001-2008 averages salaries are shown for each state. The U.S. average was calculated by averaging the year salary for each state.

For New York State, there are four average salaries shown for each year:

  1. The BLS-provided statewide average salary.
  2. The PPI-calculated statewide average salary, which is the average of the salary for all counties in the state, excluding unknown areas.
  3. The downstate average salary, which is the average of the 12-county MTA region salaries for each year.
  4. The Upstate average salary, which is the average salary of all counties in the state minus he 12-county MTA region.

Each table has a ranking for the most recent salary year available (2008) and shows a rank in parentheses for the PPI-calculated statewide average salary as well as the downstate average salary and the Upstate average salary.

Data highlights:

  1. Construction
    1. Using the average annual salary provided by the BLS, New York had the sixth highest average annual salary in the industry in 2008 – about 24 percent above the national average.
    2. Using the average salary calculated by the PPI, the state’s average annual salary was 4 percent below the national average.
    3. The average of Upstate counties was barely above $42k – about $5,000 less than the U.S. average, or 10 percent below.
    4. The downstate average was $10,000 more than the U.S. average, or 24 percent above.

  2. Manufacturing
    1. Using the average annual salary provided by the BLS, New York had the 12th highest average annual salary in the industry in 2008 – about 12 percent above the national average.
    2. Using the average salary calculated by the PPI, the state’s average annual salary was 3 percent below the national average.
    3. The average of Upstate counties was just above $47k – about $3,000 less than the U.S. average, or 6 percent below.
    4. The downstate average was $6,000 more than the U.S. average, or 11 percent above.

  3. Educational and Health Services
    1. Using the average annual salary provided by the BLS, New York had the 10th highest average annual salary in the industry in 2008 – about 8 percent above the national average.
    2. Using the average salary calculated by the PPI, the state’s average annual salary was 12 percent below the national average.
    3. The average of Upstate counties was just above $33k – about 17 percent below the national average.
    4. The downstate average was $3,000 more than the U.S. average, or 8 percent above.

  4. Trade, transportation and utilities
    1. Using the average annual salary provided by the BLS, New York had the 4th highest average annual salary in the industry in 2008 – about 17 percent above the national average.
    2. Using the average salary calculated by the PPI, the state’s average annual salary was 13 percent below the national average.
    3. The average of Upstate counties was not even $30k – about 13 percent below the national average.
    4. The downstate average was $4,000 more than the U.S. average, or 13 percent above.

  5. Professional and Business Services
    1. Using the average annual salary provided by the BLS, New York had the second highest average annual salary in the industry in 2008 – about 47 percent above the national average.
    2. Using the average salary calculated by the PPI, the state’s average annual salary was 18 percent below the national average.
    3. The average of Upstate counties was about $38,000 – about $12,000, or 18 percent below the national average.
    4. The downstate average was $3,000 more than the U.S. average, or 6 percent above.

  6. Financial Activities
    1. Using the average annual salary provided by the BLS, New York had the highest average annual salary in the industry in 2008 – about 183 percent above the national average.
    2. Using the average salary calculated by the PPI, the state’s average annual salary was 19 percent below the national average.
    3. The average of Upstate counties was about $40,000 – 33 percent below the national average.
    4. The downstate average was $20,000 more than the U.S. average, or 35 percent above.

  7. Information
    1. Using the average annual salary provided by the BLS, New York had the third highest average annual salary in the industry in 2008 – about 54 percent above the national average.
    2. Using the average salary calculated by the PPI, the state’s average annual salary was 24 percent below the national average.
    3. The average of Upstate counties was slightly over $37k – 24 percent below the national average.
    4. The downstate average was $30,000 more than the U.S. average, or 21 percent above.

Benefits data

The BLS does not provide benefits data by county for the state, nor do they provide benefits data for MSAs, which we could then calculate for each county.

[More on what the BLS does have for benefits].

Health Insurance
The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data reports that the median New York State employer contribution to a family health care plan in 2008 was $13,000 per employee -- $1,000 more than the national average.

UI costs
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, New York’s average effective unemployment insurance tax is .55 percent – among the lowest in the nation (only 19 states had lower rates).

Workers’ compensation costs
The best resource for the most recent workers’ compensation costs by state is Actuarial and Technical solutions. However, the report is not available without cost.

Educational Attainment

Educational attainment is not available for New York counties with less than 65,000. The PPI did obtain data for larger counties and calculated educational attainment for downstate and Upstate.

The data shows that while the state as a whole has somewhat more education than the United States, Upstate has a lower percentage of 18-and-older residents with a bachelor’s degree. The area does have a higher percentage of 18-and-older population with graduate degrees and a higher percentage of population with associate’s degrees.

The data for each level is measured separately. For the measurements the PPI obtained, bachelor’s degrees are a different measure than graduate degrees, etc. The data are unique and do not overlap. (Residents 18 years and older with graduate degrees are not also counted in data measuring residents with high school diplomas, etc.)

NB: The numbers for educational attainment in the United States overall were provided by the American Community Survey and are not an average of other state’s education attainment numbers.

Data problems

The BLS-provided statewide average annual wage for each industry is, in every case, far greater than the PPI-calculated statewide average. This could be because the BLS does not use small geographic areas to calculate averages.

Data for smaller geographies (typically less than 65,000 people) is not extremely reliable because the sample size is far smaller than the sample sized used in larger geographies.

The health insurance data can also be suspect because it, too, is based on samples – but even smaller ones. There is also no way of adjusting for geography.