The David Leonhardt article in today's New York Times on the pay of automotive workers for the Big 3 got me thinking about what hourly wages really mean. Are Ford workers really paid $73 per hour?
I did a quick look in the PayScale compensation database. While I will get into details below, the quick answer is the assembly line workers in the US at Ford, Chrysler and GM earn about $27/hour in base pay, while US workers for Toyota earn about $25.
This jibes with the graphic in the NYT article. Why do the companies quote $73/hour, when they are only paying about $27/hour?
Understanding this huge difference explains why the Big 3 are going bankrupt, and Toyota is not. The $2/hour difference in base wage is not the Big 3's problem.
The gap between $28 and $73 per hour comes from different definitions of both wage and hour, and the difference between what current workers earn vs. the promises made to former employees.
Is your market value $73/hour, but your employer is only paying $28? Use the PayScale salary survey to find out.