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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bay Area Jobs Outlook III - The Highest-/Lowest-Paying Gigs in the Bay

Posted By on Wed, Feb 6, 2008 at 7:06 AM


The fella with the mop earns an average of $12.59 an hour in San Francisco. The fella with the Semitic good looks pulls in $57.62.

Which San Francisco jobs pay the best? Which pay the worst? Do you deserve a raise – or should you be buying us all a round of drinks?

By Joe Eskenazi

In the midst of poring through the state and federal government’s employment numbers and projections for this series (read part I here, part II here), I discovered a most inconvenient truth: One of the two methods the government uses to calculate job growth has an error rate of plus or minus 100,000 jobs (so that 18,000-job gain in December may well have been an 82,000-job loss).

And the other method? It comes with an error rate of plus or minus 400,000 jobs.

So, to put it mildly, when it comes to tabulating our month-by-month job growth (let alone the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projections up to year 2016) we’re not dealing with “a Swiss f-----g watch,” as the Dude put it in The Big Lebowski.

That being said, the calculations of how much the various professions earn, county by county, in this great state of ours are considerably more accurate; if it doesn’t reach the Dude’s exalted “Swiss f-----g watch” status, it’s at least a "Japanese f-----g watch.”

So, according to the California Employment Development Department’s most up-to-date numbers, these are the 10 highest-paid jobs in the San Francisco metro region (S.F., San Mateo, and Marin counties):

10. Securities, Commodities and Financial Services (hourly mean wage of $61.35)

9. Computer and Information Scientists, Research ($62.95)

8. Psychiatrists ($63.07)

7. Pediatricians, General ($63.55)

6. Financial Managers ($63.66)

5. Engineering Managers ($64.27)

4. Computer and Information System Managers ($66.90)

3. Marketing Managers ($67.24)

2. Dentists, General ($67.79)

1. Lawyers ($69.37)

Other lucrative positions of note: HR Manager ($61.29); Mathematicians ($57.45); Pharmacists ($42.48); Computer Programmers ($42.86).

Incidentally, “Writers and Authors” pull down a median of $35.52; “Editors” make $34.11; and “Reporters and Correspondents” earn $28.75. Glancing at my W-2s, I can only echo Michael Douglas’ line from Romancing the Stone: “I knew I should have listened to my mother.”


Of course, I have little to complain about compared to the 10 lowest-paid jobs in the S.F. Metro Area (and, keep in mind, the minimum wage in San Francisco, as of Jan. 1, is $9.36):

10. Waiters and Waitresses (hourly mean wage of $10.18)

9. Dining Room/Cafeteria Attendants ($9.87)

8. Counter Attendants, Cafeteria or Food Concessions ($9.82)

7. Dishwashers ($9.72)

6. Ushers, Lobby Attendants, Ticket Takers ($9.69)

5. Sewing Machine Operators ($9.63)

4. Cooks, Fast Food ($9.56)

3. Food Preparation and Serving Related Workers ($9.52)

2. Manicurists and Pedicurists ($9.52)

1. Packers and Packagers, Hand ($9.25)

Other low-wage jobs of note: Bartenders ($10.75); Personal and Home Care Aides ($11.07); Crossing Guards ($11.26); Bicycle Repairers ($12.56); Janitors and Cleaners ($12.59).

So, to repeat the question, are you overpaid or should you be the one buying the drinks? Find out here.

Finally, it warrants mentioning that our beloved San Francisco mayor earns roughly $122.87 an hour (assuming a 40-hour work-week).

For all those who accuse Gavin Newsom of governing by press release, know this: An average San Francisco PR manager makes only $57.05 an hour. So our mayor is certainly above average in that respect.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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