Pittsburgh Area Wages Rank Below Nationwide Average

The statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics paint a picture of average wages in a seven-county area, including Allegheny, Washington and Butler.

Average weekly wages for Allegheny, Washington and Butler counties. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Average weekly wages for Allegheny, Washington and Butler counties. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Pittsburgh area workers earn an hourly wage that is about 3 percent less than the nationwide average.

Workers in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Allegheny, Washington, Butler, Armstrong, Beaver, Fayette, and Westmoreland counties, had an average (mean) hourly wage of $21.28 in May 2012, according to figures released by the bureau in June. The nationwide average is $22.01.

Wages in the local area were significantly lower than their respective national averages in 12 of the 22 major occupational groups, including the life, physical, and social science; and computer and mathematical categories, said Sheila Watkins, the bureau’s regional commissioner.

Four other groups, including management and production, had wages that were measurably higher than their respective national averages.

When compared to the nationwide distribution, Pittsburgh employment was more highly concentrated in seven of the 22 occupational groups, including construction and extraction, office and administrative support, and healthcare practitioners and technical. But, management; education, training, and library; and transportation and material moving had shares significantly below their national representation.

One occupational group—community and social service—was chosen by the bureau to illustrate the diversity of data available for any of the 22 major occupational categories. 

According to a bureau news release, Pittsburgh had 22,090 jobs in community and social service, accounting for 2 percent of local area employment, which is above the 1.4-percent share nationally. The average hourly wage for this occupational group locally was $18.37—significantly below the national average of $21.27. 

Within the community and social service group category, the most number employed were social and human service assistants with 4,960, followed by 2,720 child, family and school social workers; and 2,540 mental health counselors.
Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists with average wages of $25.02, and educational, guidance, school and vocational counselors with wages of $24.12, had the higher-paying jobs. At the lower end of the wage scale were rehabilitation counselors and social and human service assistants, with mean hourly wages of $15.50 and $13.41, respectively. 

In the Pittsburgh area, above-average concentrations of employment were found in several of the occupations within the community and social service group. For instance, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors were employed at more than 2.5 times the national rate in Pittsburgh, as were mental health counselors. Social and human service assistants were employed more than 1.5 times the U.S. average. 

Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors had similar employment shares locally and nationally, according to statistics from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, a federal-state cooperative program between the bureau and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. 

See the attached chart for information about specific job categories. Or click here for more detailed information on the Pittsburgh region. 

Do you think employers in the Pittsburgh area pay a reasonable wage, given the local cost of living? Let us know in the comments box below.


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