Monday, October 12, 2009

Salary databases

This week, as economics graduate students start preparing their job market information, I'm planning to have several posts about job markets. I'll concentrate mostly on academic job markets, mostly in other disciplines. Today I'll focus on information about salaries.
Markets do many things, and one of them is to set wages. Americans are reticent about income, so there's always some interest in stories like this one in the Washington Post: What Washingtonians Make , from the President to an Abraham Lincoln portrayor (not the same guy)
One domain in which salaries are more or less public is government, which includes the pay of professors at state universities. At universities where salaries are public, this changes the culture a bit. When I was a professor at the University of Illinois, the fact that salaries were public (in those days you could check out the state budget book from the library, and find your name in it) meant that my young colleagues and I talked about our raises, and what they might mean, much more freely than at universities where salaries were private, not to say secret.
Non profit corporations of all sorts also have to reveal limited salary information on IRS form 990, stating the pay of officers and the top 5 salaries to non officers. This involves some game playing. When that requirement went into effect, I was teaching at the University of Puttsburgh. The first year, if memory serves, the top 5 salaries to non officers all went to active surgeons in the medical school. The second year, none of those surgeons was listed, the top 5 non-officer salaries were all much lower, and went to medical school department chairs. The surgeons weren't paid less, they had just shifted their compensation from reportable salary to non-reportable practice plan payments.
Below is a miscellaneous collection of searchable databases, including State salaries and Form 990's, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act.
State salary databases from Wikifoia, "The wiki for helping people understand and use the Freedom of Information Act at the state and local level."
Sunshine Review, "Establishing the Standard for Government Transparency" Public Employee Salaries Higher Education Salaries, seems to have salaries for Michigan, George Mason U, and Purdue... (Michigan was a pioneer in making salaries public on the web Faculty and staff salary record.Ann Arbor, Mich. : University of Michigan (excel spreadsheets, by year)) {Update from the comments: The student newspaper at Michigan has put up a better, searchable database of the Michigan salary information: }
Ontario public salary disclosure for 2009 Ontario universities
British Columbia public salaries, with a searchable database.

Non profit companies: ERI Nonprofit Organization Information (IRS Form 990 data, including "Part V List of Officers, Directors, Trustees and Key Employees," and "Compensation of Five Highest Paid Employees Other Than Officers, Directors and Trustees (Schedule A)". (Some organizations fill out these forms more transparently than others.)
Private sector: I don't know of any comparable resources for private sector salaries (where no sunshine or freedom of information acts apply), although there are places where you can get samples rather than full databases, e.g. has, and PayScale has a variety of surveys reporting average salaries, e.g. , with an index here
Misc. updates:
Here is the summary of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business 2008-09 US SALARY SURVEY REPORT.
Here is a collection of state university salary databases.
and here:
university and college president salaries
The Dec. 2010 Forward publishes a list of salaries of Jewish community organization leaders.


Rick said...

The student newspaper at Michigan has put up a better, searchable database of the Michigan salary information:

Unknown said...

Executive compensation data for the 5 highest paid executives (but not highest paid employees) is part of SEC filings. Many of the CEOs have their pay data aggregated into databases like Equilar and Compustat's Execucomp.

Also, my understanding is that there are some good pay databases for professional athletes.