Dee DePass has been a Star Tribune business reporter since 1993, covering small business, financial institutions, manufacturing and, most recently, the economy. Originally from New York, Dee came to Minnesota after earning her master's in journalism at the University of Maryland and her undergraduate degree at Vassar College.

Posts about Compensation

Workers average $30.69 an hour in total wages and benefits.

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: June 8, 2012 - 9:46 AM

Employees received an average $30.69 per hour in wages and benefits for the month of March, according to new data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The bulk of compensation - $21.27 an hour or 69.3 percent - came from wages and salaries. Benefits, such as vacation, health and disability insurance, provided the final 30.7 percent of  $9.42 an hour.

Further analysis by the U.S. Labor Department found that private industry employees took home fatter wages than those who worked for state and local governments. On the flip side, government workers enjoyed bigger benefit packages. 

As a result, total compensation averaged $28.78 an hour for private sector workers and $41.16 an hour for government workers.



Minneapolis makes CareerBuilders' top 15 list for new college graduates

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: May 30, 2012 - 11:53 AM

Minneapolis is one of the nation's top 15 cities for new college graduates, according to a new joint study by and

Minnesota's largest city ranked fourth in the nation, following Washington D.C., New York, and Boston. It scored better than Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Denver due to a host of factors. 

At 5.6 percent, Minneapolis had the second-lowest unemployment rate of the 15 cities on the list. It also offered low rents, averaging $974 for a one bedroom apartment, compared to $1,1814 in Boston or $1,789 in New York. And Minneapolis boasted an average starting salary of $38,500 a year, which was close to the $40,000 starting salary in New York.

Survey organizers examined the availability of entry level jobs in each city and Minneapolis scored well. Job inventory was given the most weight in the study because there are "more than 1 million bachelor's degrees conferred each year" which means new grads must decide where to work and where live, organizers said.

Another consideration that helped Minneapolis place well on the list was its diversity of industry. Minneapolis is a leader in healthcare, manufacturing, IT and other forms of commerce, survey organizers said.

Economic Policy Institute reports sobering wage data for college graduates

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: May 16, 2012 - 11:03 AM

“Congratulations and sorry about that.’’

That’s the message to college graduates all in the same breath from the The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington, D.C.

The Institute found the wages of young graduates "fared poorly during the Great Recession and its aftermath."

Wages sunk 4.6 percent between 2007 and 2011, with wages for men falling 5.1 percent and wages for women falling 4.1 percent. Job winning graduates in 2011 earned about $16.81 an hour or $35,000-a-year.

While the recession played a major role in the decline, that's not the whole story.

EPI researchers found a "period of general wage stagnation" between 2000–2007. Combine that stretch with the recession and the lackluster recovery that followed, and you face more sobering stats.

"Between 2000 and 2011, the wages of young college graduates dropped 5.4 percent (1.6 percent for men and 8.5 percent for women)," the report said.

The economists also found the post-2000 wage drop stood in sharp contrast to the big wage gains of 1995 to 2000, when there was low unemployment.

During that stretch, wages for freshly minted college grads jumped 19.1 percent (18.7 percent for men and 19.5 percent for women). Makes one long for the good old days.

University career centers across the state of Minnesota report an uptick in hiring interest from corporate recruiters. More graduates are getting jobs or internships than in previous years. But many of the lucky grads come from a pool of select majors, such as engineering, economics, marketing, and IT.

Do Right-To-Work states hurt wages?

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: March 23, 2012 - 12:11 PM

Opponents of the "Right-to-Work" rules that Republicans want to bring to Minnesota offered a strong defense this week with a new economic study showing that women and minorities are disproportionately hurt when union dues and membership become optional. 

The study, by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., found that women and minorities were "disproportionately affected by lower wages and job losses" when union rules were changed.

Let's back up. Just what does right-to-work (RTW) mean?

Currently, Minnesota is not a right-to-work state. That means that union members who work in a unionized company must pay union dues to help offset the costs of collective bargaining.

Republican legislators and even some workers argue that not all workers want to be in a union and that paying dues should be a choice. Republicans argue that union dues are expensive and take money out of the pockets of workers.

Opponents, such as the AFL-CIO, The American Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), argue that union dues are minor and that in exchange, union membership gives workers higher wages and job protections that would not exist but for collective bargaining. Some unions, such as the teachers federation and SEIU, note that many of their locals are comprised of 71 percent women. So a change to the law could hurt dramatically. Other unions such as the United Auto Workers argue that union rules equalized wages for minority auto workers.

Back to the study. Just what did the Economic Policy Institute find?:

* Women's wages dropped 4.4 percent in states where unionized companies made union dues optional. (Men's wages were 1.7 percent lower).

* The hit to wages was higher among non-whites. Blacks and Hispanics were paid 4.8 percent and 4.4 percent less than their non-union peers.

* On average, annual wages and benefits are $1,500 lower in RTW states than for comparable workers in non-RTW states — for both union and nonunion workers.

* Right-to-work laws widened the pay gap between men and women.

The battle at the State Capitol goes on and it is unclear if Republicans have the necessary votes to force a change. Regardless labor organizers say they will lobby hard until the measure dies. Stay tuned. Similar battles have played out in Ohio and Indiana to equally polarizing effect.

Summer internships on the rise

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: February 28, 2012 - 1:30 PM

Employers plan to pep up their summer internship programs, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Surveyed employers said they expect to ratchet up internship hires by 8.5 percent this year. Nearly all said they will pay their college interns.

NACE executive director Marilyn Mackes said many employers use summer internships as a way to gage students' talents and fill full-time slots later on.

The survey found that responding organizations expect to pay bachelor’s degree-level interns $16.21 per hour on average.   That’s down slightly from $16.68 in 2011.  

Hiring managers turning a little less stingy?

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: January 24, 2012 - 6:16 PM

Nearly 40 percent of surveyed business managers said they are willing to pay more for top job candidates than they were a year ago.

Survey results, announced Tuesday by employment services giant Robert Half International, found that 38 percent of the executives were willing to negotiate higher salaries. The results offered one more sign that the economy may be finally loosening up, job counselors said.

The counselors suggested job candidates do their homework on industry pay and evaluate what they really want from the job before deciding what they are truly worth. They also advised that qualified job applicants not sell themselves short just because the economy is still on somewhat shaky ground. The economy is improving.

Minnesota's unemployment rate fell in December to 5.7 percent, the lowest level in three years. National unemployment is 8.5 percent, the lowest rate since February 2009.



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