The Sunday newspaper supplement, Parade Magazine, drives me crazy at least once a year with their “What Salaries Do People Make?” issue. A smattering of random jobs and professions, it really tells you nothing except that some celebrities make $26M a year and some small town barbers take home $22,000, and some auto mechanics in Pougkeepsie make $74,600. Are the individuals named in this special issue representative of their profession? Does the salary figure include overtime pay? What about years of service and education – are those “typical?” And what about geographical differences in salary scales? You’d expect the coffee shop owner in mid-town Manhattan to make more than the coffee shop owner in Manhattan, Kansas, but is his salary the norm for New York City, or is he doing exceptionally better than his comparable peers? We have no idea. All we have from the Parade editors is a wall of black and white mug shots with names, job titles and salaries without analysis. Salary voyeurism is not an obvious virtue in my book.
Now, I belong to a large quality management professional association that does an annual salary survey of that profession each year and presents the data in great detail, sliced and diced, table after table with tons of statistical analysis. Totally geeky. I admit to barely skimming the highlights.
Looking for the fiscal middle ground here.