Structure of Wages and Benefits in the U.S. Pork Industry

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Hurley, Terrance
Kliebenstein, James
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The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 to teach economic theory as a truth of industrial life, and was very much concerned with applying economics to business and industry, particularly agriculture. Between 1910 and 1967 it showed the growing influence of other social studies, such as sociology, history, and political science. Today it encompasses the majors of Agricultural Business (preparing for agricultural finance and management), Business Economics, and Economics (for advanced studies in business or economics or for careers in financing, management, insurance, etc).

The Department of Economic Science was founded in 1898 under the Division of Industrial Science (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences); it became co-directed by the Division of Agriculture in 1919. In 1910 it became the Department of Economics and Political Science. In 1913 it became the Department of Applied Economics and Social Science; in 1924 it became the Department of Economics, History, and Sociology; in 1931 it became the Department of Economics and Sociology. In 1967 it became the Department of Economics, and in 2007 it became co-directed by the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Business.

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  • Department of Economic Science (1898–1910)
  • Department of Economics and Political Science (1910-1913)
  • Department of Applied Economics and Social Science (1913–1924)
  • Department of Economics, History and Sociology (1924–1931)
  • Department of Economics and Sociology (1931–1967)

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Pork production has been evolving from relatively small, family-run operations toward large-scale operations with several employees. This study uses a national survey of pork producers and their employees to answer several questions about the structure of wages and benefits in this rapidly changing labor market. The findings include: 1) wages do not differ across regions of the country but, instead, reflect differences in worker skills and firm size consistent with a nationally competitive labor market; 2) there is no evidence that large producers have market power in local labor markets that enable them to pay lower wages than competitors; 3) rather; large firms pay higher wages, offer better benefits, and safer working environments than smaller firms; 4) the wage premiums in larger firms seem to be partly explained by the greater use of skill-intensive technologies in large firms; 5) the remaining wage premium in large firms seems to be consistent with returns to scale that are partly shared with labor; 6) salary, benefits, and a sage working environment all contribute to worker job satisfaction so that firms offering better working conditions and benefits can pay lower salaries than competitors with fewer benefits or inferior working environments.