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Salary, Wages, Pay: Food-Processing Occupations




Earnings vary by industry, skill, geographic region, and educational level. Median annual earnings of butchers and meatcutters were $25,500 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $19,440 and $34,140. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $42,330 annually, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $15,490. Butchers and meatcutters employed at the retail level typically earn more than those in manufacturing. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of butchers and meatcutters in 2002 were as follows:

Other general merchandise stores $30,670
Grocery stores 27,230
Specialty food stores 22,280
Animal slaughtering and processing 20,630

Meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers typically earn less than butchers and meatcutters. In 2002, median annual earnings for these lower skilled workers were $17,820. The middle 50 percent earned between $15,800 and $21,170. The highest 10 percent earned more than $24,840, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $14,270. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of meat, poultry, and fish cutters and trimmers in 2002 are shown in the following tabulation:

Grocery stores $20,900
Grocery and related product wholesalers 18,440
Animal slaughtering and processing 17,710
Seafood product preparation and packaging 15,660

Median annual earnings of bakers were $20,580 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $16,420 and $26,610. The highest 10 percent earned more than $33,470, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $14,100. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of bakers in 2002 are given in the following tabulation:

Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing $22,030
Other general merchandise stores 21,650
Grocery stores 20,470
Full-service restaurants 19,650
Limited-service eating places 17,830

Median annual earnings of food batchmakers were $21,920 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $16,720 and $28,740. The highest 10 percent earned more than $35,110, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $13,930. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of food batchmakers in 2002 are presented in the following tabulation:

Dairy product manufacturing $26,330
Fruit and vegetable preserving and specialty food manufacturing 22,980
Other food manufacturing 22,850
Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing 22,530
Sugar and confectionary product manufacturing 21,390

In 2002, median annual earnings for slaughterers and meatpackers were $20,370. The middle 50 percent earned between $17,650 and $22,900. The highest 10 percent earned more than $26,270, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $15,350. Median annual earnings in animal slaughtering and processing, the industry employing the largest number of food processing workers, were $20,410 in 2002.

Median annual earnings for food cooking machine operators and tenders were $21,860 in 2002. The middle 50 percent earned between $16,900 and $28,160. The highest 10 percent earned more than $34,890, and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $14,380. Median annual earnings in fruit and vegetable preserving and specialty food manufacturing, the industry employing the largest number of food cooking machine operators and tenders, were $25,320 in 2002.

In 2002, median annual earnings for food and tobacco roasting, baking, and drying machine operators and tenders were $23,260 and for all other food processing workers, $19,410.

Food-processing workers generally received typical benefits, including pension plans for union members or those employed by grocery stores. However, poultry workers rarely earned substantial benefits. In 2002, 25 percent of all butchers and other meat, poultry, and fish processing workers were union members or were covered by a union contract. Sixteen percent of all bakers and 18 percent of all food batchmakers also were union members or were covered by a union contract. Many food-processing workers are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.