Little Pay Gap In St. Louis

A slightly slanted story in the St. Louis Post-Dipsatch lauds:

There’s a bit of good news for beleaguered blue collar workers in St. Louis: On average, their pay trails their white collar counterparts’ by just $3.73 an hour, the narrowest margin among large U.S. metro areas, Labor Department data show.

In other regions, the gap between blue and white collar hourly pay was as large as $14.12 in mid-2003, according to the data, the most recent figures available.

While there’s no clear explanation for the smaller difference in St. Louis, it’s likely evidence of a few trends and unique features of the area economy, experts said.

Credit the region’s rich union tradition, economists say. And “we have several high-paying manufacturing companies here, like Boeing, the automakers and Anheuser-Busch,” said Donald Phares, an economist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis.

Blue collar workers in this region earned an average of $17.72 an hour in mid-2003. That put St. Louis near the top, above several areas with higher costs of living. In Denver, for example, blue collar workers averaged $15.55 an hour.

While that’s nice, one with a less unionphilic attitude might hit immediately on these other ramifications first:

  • White collar workers are underpaid in St. Louis, which explains why young people get degrees and leave.
  • Manufacturers, with an eye on labor costs, won’t relocate to St. Louis. Heck, it takes large “incentives” to keep the existing ones here, which means that the blue collared employees and the underpaid white collar employees (and the forgotten pink collar employees–whatever happened to them?) waste a portion of their taxable incomes keeping those manufacturers here. Oh, and fresh new ballparks.

Remember, friends, that every high price is a boon for some seller and every low price is a bargain for some buyers, and you too will understand economics and will be disqualified from journalism.

Also, please note my new favorite made-up epithet: dipsatch. Man, that just sounds like a nasty thing to call someone, ainna?

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