Salary data and comparisons

Have you ever noticed how our media loves to crusade about, and publicize,
the salaries of various groups of individuals,
but never (or hardly ever) about those of doctors?

Here is an example:

Top Metro executives made $3.1 million in 2011
By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post, 2012-03-14, page B-1 (the local news section)

[Here are the first three paragraphs of the article:]

Metro’s top 16 executives took home $3.1 million in salaries in 2011,
and the head of the agency made more money than his counterpart in New York, according to records and officials at the transit agencies.

That information comes as Metro considers how to close a deficit in its next budget. Riders face average fare increases of about 5 percent, although the effect on people’s wallets will vary greatly depending on when and where they travel.

Metro General Manager Richard Sarles’s $350,000 salary isn’t a surprise.
Sarles signed a three-year contract that established his annual salary last year, but it makes him
one of the highest-paid executives running a major U.S. transit agency.
Sarles falls short of being a 1-percenter,
but his Metro salary ranks in
the top 5 percent of median household incomes in the Washington region.


[Back to comments by the author of this blog:]

Well, it seems to me that running the Washington Metro system is an important,
and probably rather thankless, job.
Is $350K a lot for that job?
And how does that compare to the salaries of other professionals in the area?
Have you ever seen the WP report on the salaries of the local health care professionals?
A rare (to my knowledge) occurrence was here.
Here I reproduce a table that appeared in the print version of that article:

Median compensation, 2011 Source: American Medical Group Association
Specialty Compensation in $1K
Orthopedic surgery 502
Radiology 492
Cardiology 423
Gastroenterology 416
Dermatology 386
Anesthesiology 373
General surgery 367
Opthalmology 356
OB/GYN 303
Emergency 286
Psychiatry 217
Family care 209

First, notice that that data is evidently a nation-wide survey.
One does not know how it compares to Washington salaries.
I would think that, even with New York City no doubt commanding the highest salaries,
Washington would be higher than the national average.
But in any case,
notice that the highest salary there is $502K, with three other specialties in the 400s,
and eight specialties in all pulling down more than the WMATA General Manager's $350K.
Does it seem unreasonable to expect that the WMATAGM should earn as much as the average orthopedic surgeon?
I think not.
The WMATAGM no doubt requires less specialized skills,
but on the other hand his range of responsibility is considerably larger.
But to bring him up to the level of an orthopedic surgeon,
his salary would have to be raised from $350K to $500K.

Well, all that is tendentious.
But what is, in my opinion, not tendentious is that the media is derelict in failing to raise the issue of health care salaries.

Miscellaneous Articles


State workers rake in big bucks in Maryland, Virginia
by Ben Giles
Washington Examiner, 2012-08-01

[In addition to the article, the article contains some links to salary data:]

(View the highest-paid state employees in Maryland and Virginia, listed by salary)

[The other tables linked to in the article
contain job titles as well as names and salaries.]


The 10 Highest-Paid Jobs in America
Among the 10 highest-paid occupations, 9 are in the medical field
By Danielle Kurtzleben
usnews.com, 2013-03-29

I finally figured out how to get the information cited in the above article
directly from the government (the BLS).
The solution (at least as of today):
Visit http://www.bls.gov/oes/
Scroll down to "OES data"
Click on "National (HTML)"
Click on "All Occupations"
(You can by pass the above by going directly to http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#00-0000
Scroll up a line or two to see the headings for the table columns.
Click first on the downward-pointing triangle, then on the upward-pointing triangle on the "Annual Mean Wage" heading to sort the table by wage.

You will note that the STEM fields,
which the "elite" claims to want to increase the quality and quantity of the work force of,
do not occupy the top positions.
Rather, health care dominates to top of the list.
Talk about not putting their money where their mouth is!