pay scales will vary (was: RE: The Indian Menace?!?)

Subject: pay scales will vary (was: RE: The Indian Menace?!?)
From: SIANNON -at- VISUS -dot- JNJ -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 13:35:42


I originally intended to avoid this thread, but I have been rather
surprised by some of the opinions expressed (and I'm not an easy person to
surprise).

We discuss the concept of regional pricing variations every year on this
list, whenever someone new asks what the standard going rate for a tech
writer is. It is usually established, in these discussions, that even
*within a single country*, the pay scales not only _may_, but _will_ vary,
depending on the economic profile and occupational opportunities of the
area.

This is unavoidable. It is extremely unlikely that I would be able to make
as much working in this city (Jacksonville, FL) as I could doing the same
scope of work in places like Seattle or the NC Research Triangle, New York,
or even Miami. I've seen some local companies scoff in disbelief at the
idea of paying an extensively experienced senior tech writer with over 20
years' experience $35/hr. for contract work. The economic profile here
won't sustain it at this time. Maybe in five years it will improve.
However, that will only be because the economic profile in this area will
have changed.

The same principle holds true in the international job market. The
economic profiles among multiple countries will vary even more dramatically
than those within a single country. The comparative pay scale for
corresponding jobs in a country with a depressed economy will not improve
until that country's comparative standing in the world economy improves.
Telling a tech writer in such a country not to take a job with a
competitively higher rate than other available jobs because it was offered
by someone in a country with a stronger economy effectively asks them to
refuse something that will bring more money into their local economy, and
possibly help improve their local economic profile. I believe such a
suggestion is both impractical and rude (i.e., "your family's health and
well-being don't matter, because they get in the way of my preferred career
options").

I'm open to commentary from those who are more familiar with the subject of
economics, but it is my personal opinion that the pay scale an employee
accepts for a job has a minimal impact on anything other than the local
economy. It is the behavior of the _employers_ that will make the
difference, and that is a matter of their own business practice.

Some businesses will only pay attention to the bottom line. Those
businesses will move their operations wherever they deem them to be more
cheaply run, whether that be India or Mississippi. Some businesses will
weigh the other factors, and choose sustainable business practices that
seek to improve their local economy, preserve environmental integrity and
their internal resources. Those businesses will not go as far afield to
look for a "deal" on their employee costs.

Someone accepting a job offer isn't "robbing" someone else of a job. The
employer already decided to look elsewhere. If you want to fix the problem,
find a way to convince the employers that it would be better for their
goals to pursue local talent instead of going elsewhere.

Again, this is my opinion.
Shauna




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