Shenandoah wages lower than Warren, state averages

The Virginia Employment Commission has released an updated version of its industry profiles, which include data related to the number of establishments, wages, employment and unemployment insurance tax rates for five major industries.

The data showed the employment rates and wages for mining and gas extraction, manufacturing, finance and insurance, real estate, rental and leasing and public and private educational services. It measured wage and employment rates over a 20- and a five-year period, comparing each benchmark’s second quarter.

Focusing on manufacturing, finance and insurance and the real estate and rental industries, James Wilson, a senior economist with the commission, gave the Northern Virginia Daily a look into wages and employment for those industries in Shenandoah and Warren counties.

Wilson said all of the information was taken from data gleaned from the unemployment tax insurance that employers have to submit to the commission, so therefore, the employees might be tied to a particular geographic area.

“We look at what we call the place of employment,” he said. “So for example, if you have somebody living in Shenandoah County and they work in Winchester, then they would be counted in the employment rate for Winchester, not Shenandoah.”

Wilson said one of the problems when looking at industries on a local level is confidentiality.

“There might be only one establishment of that particular industry in a county, so we can’t publish much more than that because everyone would know XYZ company’s business,” Wilson said. “So, you might have a lot of data that is unaccounted for when you start getting into the details.”

MANUFACTURING

In the commonwealth, manufacturing employed 231,748 people during the second quarter of 2014. That is 145,595 less than 1994 and 6,968 less than 2009. The weekly average wage rose from $558 in 1994 to $920 in 2009 to $1,054 in 2014.

In Shenandoah County, manufacturing employed 3,241 people at an average weekly wage of $717. The largest sector was food manufacturing, which employed 1,431 people at an average weekly wage of $542. That’s $201 less than the state average.

“For comparison, there are 130 people employed in furniture manufacturing in Shenandoah, with a $913 weekly wage,” Wilson said. “But even without knowing the other wages, you can see the food manufacturing can bring the average down.”

In Warren County, 966 people work in manufacturing, with an average wage of $1,000 per week. With 80 percent of the information confidential, there is very little specific data available, Wilson said.

“There’s definitely a lot of higher paying manufacturing industries, such as beverage and tobacco, computers and electronics and chemicals,” Wilson said. “The biggest sector we know about is in plastics manufacturing, which employs 159 people with an average pay of $1,173 per week.”

Wilson said with average wages, it’s hard to figure how much employees are taking home due to hours.

“Beverage and tobacco manufacturing has average weekly wage of $1,096 in 2014, however in Shenandoah County, it was $199,” he said. “The employers do not provide us with the number of hours worked, so we have no idea whether if that sector is strictly part time or if there’s just not much to it there.”

Wilson also noted one of the reasons for the discrepancy in manufacturing employment between Shenandoah and Warren counties may be Shenandoah’s proximity to Interstate 81.

“If you look at a map of Virginia based on manufacturing employment, you see a lot of those top manufacturing counties in the west follow along 81,” he said. “If it’s easier for companies to ship their goods, they will locate there.”

FINANCE, INSURANCE

Finance and insurance in the commonwealth in the second quarter of 2014 employed 129,383 people, up 6,984 from 2009 and 28,256 from 1994. However, the employment has not rebounded to the pre-recession peak of a little fewer than 135,000 in 2005. Wages averaged $1,447 per week in 2014, $818 more than in 1994 and $203 more than in 2009.

In Shenandoah County during that same quarter, the finance and insurance industry employed 284 people at an average weekly wage of $796. Commercial banking accounted for 179 employees, who earned an average of $761 per week, $223 less than the state average. Direct insurance employed 21 people, at an average weekly wage of $746, $365 less than the state average, while insurance agencies and brokerages employed 34 people, who made $729 per week, $422 less than the state.

Wilson said other parts of the state might be bringing the average wage up a little bit.

“You got to figure, with some of your big cities where the headquarters are, that’s going to pay more,” he said. “If you look at a map on wages, you’ll see the really high wages are in Richmond, Fairfax and Tidewater.”

Wilson added, “You’ll also have executives in those areas too, so they’re getting a high wage that brings the average up.”

In Warren County, the sector employed 244 people at an average weekly wage of $1,187. Commercial banking accounted for 99 employees, at an average weekly wage of $677, while insurance agencies and brokerages employed 51 people at an average of $638 per week. Wilson said the county’s proximity to larger areas might be a factor in the decreased wages.

“Because Warren is kind of the very outer edge of Northern Virginia, there’s a possibility the demand for commercial banking or even insurance for that matter, is less because people are taking care of those needs when they travel to the city for work,” he said.

Securities and brokerage firms employed 39 people, at an average wage of $3,814 per week, $804 more than the state average. Wilson said the larger wage in that sector could be due to a number of factors.

“Experience, education and just what the person’s occupation is can factor into the average,” he said. “Just because the average is that doesn’t mean everybody at a broker’s office is making that … I doubt the receptionist is making that much.”

RENTAL, REAL ESTATE

In the second quarter of 2014, the rental and real estate industry employed 51,902 people in the commonwealth, 2,727 more employees than in 1994 and 2,227 less than 2009. The pre-recession peak was about 59,000 employees in 2007. Average weekly wages in 2014 was $897, $493 more than in 1994 and $127 more than in 2009.

Wilson said one reason for the slower jobs recovery in this sector is due to the slow economic rebound in the housing market. He also noted that when calculating the employment and wage numbers, real estate sales people who are paid solely by commission were not counted.

In Shenandoah County during the second quarter of 2014, the sector employed 99 people at an average wage of $378 per week. Forty-three people worked in real estate property management, earning $314 per week, $663 less than the state average, while 28 worked in the offices of real estate agents and brokers, at $574 per week, $488 less than the state average.

In Warren County, the sector employed 68 people at an average of $587 per week. Wilson said much of the county’s data was confidential, with about “two-thirds” of the employment information unattainable. However, offices of real estate agents and brokers employed eight people, at an average wage of $1,485 per week, $423 more than the state average. Property management employed 17 people, at an average wage of $424 per week, $553 less than the state average.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com