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ABQ area workers paid 6 percent less

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Health workers fare well, lawyers do poorly in national comparison

A federal study comparing Albuquerque wages with the rest of the country is either good or bad news depending on what you do.

Health care support workers, for example, exceeded their counterparts nationally. Lawyers, on the other hand, were significantly underpaid in a national comparison with their colleagues.

Overall, wages paid by Albuquerque area employers average about 6 percent less than wages paid nationally, although some occupational groups earn as much as 24 percent less than their counterparts’ average nationwide, according to a federal study released Tuesday.

The average hourly wage paid in Albuquerque as of May 2012 was $20.69, 6 percent less than the national average of $22.01 per hour, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

The report said only two groups in Albuquerque “had wages that were measurably higher than their respective national averages: Life, physical and social science occupations; and health care support workers.”

Workers in the legal occupational group were lowest paid of the major occupational groups relative to their peers nationwide. The average hourly wage of $35.97 was 24 percent lower than the national average. Lawyers in the Albuquerque area have an average hourly wage of $46.15, compared to a national average wage of $62.93. Paralegals who make an average wage of $21.21 in Albuquerque make an average wage of $24.15 nationally.

BLS said that, of the 22 major occupational groups studied, wages paid to employees in 15 of them in Albuquerque “were significantly lower than their respective national averages.”

Workers in the life, physical and social science sector in the Albuquerque area make $36.04 an hour on average. Nationally, they make $32.87, a 10 percent difference. The sector is composed of jobs as varied as urban planner and zoologist.

BLS also found that local employment is highly concentrated in nine of 22 occupational groups, especially in architecture and engineering, personal care and service, and construction and extraction.

“Conversely, employment shares were significantly below their national representation in seven groups, including production, transportation and material moving, and sales and related,” BLS reported.

The study said that Albuquerque had 12,490 jobs in architecture and engineering, accounting for 3.4 percent of local area employment. That is almost twice the national share of 1.8 percent.

Within the architecture and engineering sector, 1,000 people in the Albuquerque area were employed as industrial engineers, 970 were civil engineers and 940 were electronics engineers other than computer engineers.

A list of the 500 jobs BLS included in its survey and their average hourly wage in the Albuquerque area can be found at www.ABQJournal.com.

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