Pay scales in Los Angeles range from the multimillion-dollar salaries of movie stars, investment bankers and CEOs to the minimum wage or less earned by immigrant garment workers and gardeners. As the Business Journal reports on L.A. salaries this week, we ask:
From your perspective, do pay levels fairly reflect the work required?
Vice President, Corporate Applications
WellPoint Health Networks Inc.
In the general employment market, there will always be disparities between what some professions earn vs. the complexity and importance of their work. In the information technology world, pay levels are beginning to reflect the true supply and demand for the industry. Nowhere is that more evident than with activities geared toward systems capabilities as we approach the year 2000. The "Y2K" problem is impacting, in a positive way, the salaries of programmers. The demand is high for this particular type of programmer, but the supply is low.
I think it's gross. An (actor) is paid an insane amount of money for playing a firefighter or a doctor or a teacher. In real life, a teacher doesn't make any money. It's the weirdest irony in the world. I just think the whole (entertainment) industry is getting out of control, (when you compare peoples' salaries) to what people do that really benefits society. A really, really good teacher, at best, makes $40,000, if they don't have tenure at the university. What will encourage people to take these jobs if they're underpaid?
Deloitte & Touche LLP
There's a disparity. At the high end, you have a breakdown in understanding that success is tied to responsibility to your community. You have to behave appropriately. That has culminated in the latest Bill Clinton activities. I think that we're seeing the end of society tolerating that kind of behavior. My point is that once the market decides that a person has a particular value, that individual needs to understand that (he has been given) the responsibility to carry (the market) forward.
Universal Pictures Marketing
I think that the compensation for executive talent has resulted in spiraling salaries, that businesses feel that large salaries are the only lures for executive talent. It's like the arms race: everybody keeps matching. That money has to come from somewhere, and they'll take it away from (assistants) who work the same hours (as the executives). It really splits companies into the "haves" and "have-nots." It makes people focus on themselves instead of making people focus on a team. Certainly the entertainment industry and the software industry have a lot of that going on. I also think HMOs (suffer from this problem).
In general, (regarding) industries as a whole, I think (pay levels are) fair. There are situations where you see the exercise of under-pay or over-pay either way, but that's across industries. That can be everywhere.
Managing Director, Los Angeles Office
The Gable Group
I think there are people out there who are educating our children and saving lives who are not paid what they should be. Industries have varying parameters for what they base their pay scales on. I think if you look at nurses or at educators, they're paid far less than they should be. If you look at the entertainment industry, especially in Los Angeles, people are paid exorbitant salaries. I'd say it comes down to the revenues the industry generates, (not) the demand (for employees).
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