Higher Salaries in NE Cities

September 30, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The size of your paycheck continues to depend on where you work, a newly updated national salary survey shows.

Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s 2004 Mercer Benchmark Database showed that an executive secretary in Memphis, Tennessee earns a base salary of $38,700 while a person doing the same job across the country in San Francisco would pull in $55,100. Average base salary nationally for the position is $45,500, according to the study.

In general, the highest salaries for the positions in Mercer’s survey were in large northeast cities (including New York City and Boston) and in California (including Los Angeles and San Jose). Workers bringing up the rear in terms of salary tended to be southern states including Alabama, New Mexico, and Tennessee.

Factors such as the local labor market, demand for job skill, and composition of the talent pool play a role in determining how much a position is paid, as well as which positions are paid more within metropolitan areas. For example, an intermediate accountant (which typically requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting and two to four years of experience) is a case in point. At $45,300 nationally, average base pay for this position is comparable to that for the executive secretary ($45,500). However, in Seattle an executive secretary is paid 14% more than an intermediate accountant ($48,500 versus $42,600, respectively), while in Tampa, Florida, an executive secretary is paid 8% less than an intermediate accountant ($41,700 versus $45,300, respectively).

“As the economy improves and employers focus on growth, assessing pay levels in local areas is important for attracting and retaining top-performing employees,” said Darrell Cira, a senior compensation consultant in Mercer’s Philadelphia office, in a news release. “Companies sensitive to salary differences in local markets can avoid losing good talent as a result of underpaying employees, and can better manage their compensation costs by not overpaying.”

The 2004 Mercer Benchmark Database includes positions in: Corporate Marketing and Communications; E-commerce; Executive; Finance, Accounting, and Legal; Human Resource Management; Information Technology; and Logistics and Supply Chain Management. The latest edition of the survey includes responses from more than 2,300 mid-sized and large organizations across all industries reporting compensation data for more than one million employees in 328 nonexempt positions (eligible for overtime pay) and lower-level exempt positions (not eligible for overtime pay).Copies can by ordered at 800-333-3070.