Capital Region

Federal labor numbers offer insight on jobs, salaries in Capital Region

What we earn and what we do to earn it
Cussin’s Nails owner Cori Rodriguez works on a customer at 118 Jay St. in Schenectady Friday.
Cussin’s Nails owner Cori Rodriguez works on a customer at 118 Jay St. in Schenectady Friday.

Wage data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan statistical area with 451,810 jobs paying an average annual wage 4.7% higher than the 145 million jobs nationwide — $54,400 here vs. $51,960.

The numbers are estimates based on six surveys of employers over a three-year period, and contain varying margins of error. Within the data are many trivial tidbits about how we make a living and what kind of living we make, including:

  • In the Albany metro area, there are similar numbers of professionals bringing people safely into the world as there are seeing them out of the world with dignity. But their average salaries are very different: $252,060 for obstetricians/gynecologists vs. $111,190 for funeral services managers.
  • As a percentage of the workforce, the metro area has double the national average of manicurists and fire inspectors but only half as many cement masons and food service supervisors. However, we’re dead even on the number of bartenders.
  • Twenty-one times more people provide care for the domestic animals we want (veterinarians, vet techs/assistants and non-farm animal caretakers, 1,480 total) as are employed to deal with the animals we don’t want (animal-control workers, 70 total). 
  • Ten times more people work to prepare and sell fast food than work to reverse the effects of eating too much fast food. Fast food workers number 11,000 and average just under $25,000 a year in wages, while fitness instructors and trainers in the metro area number 1,160 and average just over $42,000 a year.
  • There are 100 times more cashiers than there are ushers/ticket takers but both groups average an annual salary in the low $24,000 range.
  • Those with average annual wages under $25,000 outnumbered those over $250,000 by a better-than 100-to-1 ratio — 27,340 to 260.
  • Local occupations with wages significantly higher than the national average for that occupation were farming/forestry (+27%), protective service (+13%), production (+10%) and food prep/service (+10%). 
  • Significantly lower than the national average were computer/mathematical (-12%), life/physical/social science (-12%), legal (-9%) and business/financial operations (-6%).
  • Occupations in the Albany metro with the highest average annual wage were held by a handful of highly trained medical professionals: surgeon ($283,700), internist ($256,900), obstetrician/gynecologist ($252,060) and psychiatrist ($203,910).
  • At the other end of the scale were manicurists/pedicurists ($23,020), food counter attendants ($23,970), lifeguards and other recreational safety personnel ($24,100) and cashiers ($24,500).
  • Occupations with a much higher concentration in the Albany metro than nationally included tax examiner (8.98 times the national average), historian (4.96), legislator (4.67) and preschool special education teacher (4.43).
  • Occupations with a much lower concentration included airline pilots and flight engineers (0.12), farming/fishing/forestry (0.14),  tool and die makers (0.18), sewing machine operators (0.32), and family/general practice physicians (0.33).
  • Occupations with the most jobs in the Albany metro were retail sales, 14,430; registered nurses, 10,840; food prep/serving, 10,700; office clerks, 10,260; and cashiers, 9,990. (These were the top five occupations nationwide, as well, though not all at the same position in the top five.)
  • Top-paying occupational categories in the Albany metro area were management, $119,430; architecture and engineering, $90,710; legal, $99,080; computers and mathematics, $80,390; and healthcare practitioner/technician, $78,200.
  • Lowest-paying occupational categories were food prep/serving $28,050; cleaning/maintenance, $30,490; personal care/service, $30,590; healthcare support, $31,230; and transportation/material moving, $38,010.

These data for the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metropolitan statistical area are May 2018 estimates extracted from the previous six editions of the Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, which is conducted each May and each November. The sample in the Albany metro area included 3,245 establishments with a response rate of 69 percent. 

The metro area is defined as Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie counties. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday highlighted data on a single occupational category — business and financial operations — in the Albany metro area as an example of the depth of the statistical data available.

There were 27,380 jobs in this category in the Albany metro area, or 6.1 percent of the total area employment. This compares with a 5.3 percent share nationwide. Average hourly wage in this category was $34.74 here, compared with $36.98 nationally.

Top occupations in Albany metro business/finance category were: accountant/auditor, 4,370 jobs, $75,870 average salary; management analyst, 2,700, $82,160; business operations specialist, 2,510, $77,410; and human resources specialists, 2,080, $66,680.

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