What People Earn

By Susan Burns August 31, 2009

When Biz941 published its salary snapshot two years ago, our region was still buoyed by the real estate boom, a period when pay increased for many of our workers, and we were closing the historical wage gap we’d had compared to the rest of Florida and the nation. Wages here were only five percent lower than the state’s average wage and 14 percent below the national average.

Believe it or not, two years later that picture is still true. Despite the recession, some employers have continued to raise wages; the median wages in many occupations we surveyed two years ago have continued to increase (see page 22); and we continue to catch up to the state’s average wage, according to Rebecca Rust, chief economist for the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation. The Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice MSA’s average overall wage increased 17.2 percent since 2004, while the state’s average wage increased by only 15.4 percent. Our region’s 2009 average hourly wage is now $17.92 and the state’s is $18.78, a 4.58 percent difference.

And if you look at the median cost of a house now—$162,700 in June, down 30 percent from the same time a year ago and down 53 percent from its all-time high of about $347,000 in August 2005—these rising wages and declining home prices spell good news for workers.

That’s true, says Richard Judy, the CEO of Indianapolis-based consulting firm Workforce Associates Inc., who conducted a 2007 study of our region for the Suncoast Workforce Development Board. But the larger picture is that many people here do not have work.

“Your unemployment is much higher than the nation’s, and real estate still is not where it was in 2003,” he says. “We have still further to go. When this finally shakes out we’ll see a more affordable cost of living but people will still have to be employed [to buy a house].” (Unemployment in Sarasota in June was 11.4 percent in Sarasota, 11.8 percent in Manatee and 9.5 percent nationally.)

Rust, chief economist, is even more cautious when looking at the shrinking wage gap. Yes, some companies have increased their wages, but perhaps more important to our salary snapshot is the layoff factor. When companies reduce their workforces, they often lay off the least experienced, lowest-paid employees. When this happens, the overall wage rises because the remaining employees are at the higher end of the pay scale.

The other contributing factor to our climbing wages this year is overtime. Fewer workers can mean longer hours for remaining workers, which also causes the overall wage to increase. Rust also adds that the minimum wage in Florida has increased six times since 2004, and that has also had a positive effect on the overall average wage as well.

The only profession locally and statewide that is seeing any increase in jobs is health services, and the number of new health services jobs in our region is only 100, a very small amount, says Rust.

And, unfortunately, what hasn’t changed is that our region still has a higher percentage of people employed in lower wage occupations than Florida and the nation, says Rust. It would be much better for our economy if more people were employed as doctors, computer analysts and engineers.

Salary Snapshots

Here's what some locals make.

Chelsey Lora


Legal Aid of Manasota


Amanda Otero




Joe Pratt


Mattison’s Bar and Grille

Estimated $22,000/year

Morgan Richmond

Accounting/marketing employee

Estimated $80,000/year

Kim Payne

Laser eye medical assistant

Florida Eye and Laser Institute


Mike Metz



Carla Williams


Any Lab Test Now


Dominique Williams

Lawn and landscaper

Jordan Williams Lawn and Landscaping LLC


Mike Grant

Sales consultant


Estimated $27,600/year

Vicki Hadely


The Cypress Bed and Breakfast


Rodney Hershberger


PGT Inc.

$398,641 (includes salary and nonequity incentive plan compensation)

Rod A. Shipman


CPC of America

$8,041,601 (includes salary and option awards)

Paul Thatcher


Sarasota division, First State Financial Corp.

$230,095 (includes salary, option awards and other compensation)

Jerry R. Welch



$1,207,851 (includes salary, option awards, bonus and other compensations)

Brian D. Jellison

Chairman of the board, president and CEO

Roper Industries

$17,212,476 (includes salary, stock awards, option awards, nonequity incentive plan compensation and other compensation)

Dick Clapp


City of Sarasota


Robert Bartolotta

Sarasota City Manager


Gwendolyn Brown


Manatee Board of County Commissioners


Tim McGonegal


Manatee County Schools


David McDonald

Executive Director

Port Manatee


Lori White


Sarasota County Schools

Coming tomorrow

Closing the Wage Gap?

Hourly wages for select occupations

Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice, September 2007 and August 2009

 No. of jobs    Median wage  State median

2007        2009     2007        2009              2007    2009

Waitress        8,510         8,160     $7.75      $9.24              $8.12   $9.02

Cashier          9,360          8,620       $8.75      $8.51              $8.16   $8.12



manufacturing  410        200    $9.56       $9.56    $9.85     $11.82

Landscaper,    5,340       5,130       $9.94       $10.92     $9.89    $10.54


Carpenter       1,870        2,640   $15.13      $17.52    $15.70   $16.38

Office Clerk    6,910        6,090    $10.66     $11.65     $11.02   $11.42

Home health    1,420       1,430    $11.02     $11.60      $9.81     $9.96


Retail               10,620     9,390   $11.06     $11.27    $10.45    $10.77


Bank teller     1,230       1,320 $11.68      $11.94   $11.30     $11.86

Customer       3,930       3,970  $12.33      $13.28    $13.16     $13.83

service rep

Heavy truck    3,530      1,960 $14.35       $15.71           $15.05     $15.96


Administrative 3,610    5,370 $16.74      $14.01   $16.97     $13.27


Chef                   240      200 $19.67      $21.92    $18.29     $21.48

Personal           410       560 $23.24    $26.18               $$26.23    $24.66

financial advisor

Middle school    960     1.060 $48,947    $48.957    $47,143    $49,603


Accountant       2,370    2,440 $24.42     $25.78      $25.15    $26.81

Computer           180      580 $24.79     $29.12      $31.06    $31.27


Reg. nurse        5,340     5,230 $26.45     $27.53          $27.40     $29.02

Management     920       1,300 $27.34      $23.60       $29.26     $30.76


Construction    750          580 $35.22      $38.92      $36.68    $41.14


Financial          500          590 $44.63      $46.85      $43.95     $48.47


Pharmacist      430         470 $46.12     $50.66     $46.92   $51.53

SOURCE: Florida Agency of Workforce Innovation

• Only annual wage available

Top 10 Positions In Demand, August 2009*

Occupation title                                                    2009 Average Hourly Wage No. of openings

Management Occupations                                                      293

Occupational Therapists                                                          $31.28 269

Physical Therapists                                                                   $36.78 239

Registered Nurses                                                                     $28.15 202

Sales and Related Occupations                                               $31.28 178

Customer Service Representatives                                        $13.71 105

Speech-Language Pathologists                                                $31 97

Physical Therapist Assistants                                                   $24.38 81

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations          65

Retail Salespersons                                                                    $13.91 62

SOURCE: Employ Florida Marketplace

*These are the occupations with the most advertised jobs currently available in Sarasota-Bradenton-Venice MSA.

Top 10 Losing Positions, 2009

Professional and business services (-7,400 jobs)

Construction (-3,500 jobs)

Trade, transportation, and utilities (-2,300 jobs)

Leisure and hospitality (-1,900 jobs)

Manufacturing (-1,200 jobs)

Government (-900 jobs)

Information and financial activities (both -400 jobs)

Other services (-200 jobs)

SOURCE: Suncoast Workforce Board

*Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice job declines over the year

Annual Average Wages by Industry


Average Annual Wages

Industry Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice MSA Florida

Total, All Industries $36,811         $40,569     

Financial Activities $53,663         $55,754     

Information $48,444         $58,202     

Government $46,796         $46,416     

Manufacturing $45,128         $48,603     

Education and Health Services $40,392         $42,243     

Construction $39,982         $42,017     

Professional and Business Services $39,127         $46,952     

Trade, Transportation, and Utilities $31,109         $36,219     

Other Services $25,845         $28,563     

Leisure and Hospitality $20,851         $21,204     

Natural Resources and Mining $19,329         $23,967     

SOURCE:  Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, Labor Market Statistics Center, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Program, released July 2009.

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