Nonsupervisory wage and salary workers in wholesale trade averaged $644 a week in 2002, higher than the average of $506 a week for the entire workforce. Earnings varied greatly among specialties in wholesale trade. For example, in the area with the highest earnings- commercial equipment-workers averaged $821 a week; but in the area with the lowest earnings-farm-product raw materials-workers made $431 a week.
Part of the earnings of some workers is based on performance, especially in the case of outside sales workers, who frequently receive commissions on their sales. Although many sales workers receive a base salary in addition to commission, some receive compensation based solely on sales revenue. Performance-based compensation may become more common among other occupations as wholesaling firms attempt to offer more competitive compensation packages.
Like earnings, benefits vary widely from firm to firm. Some small firms offer few benefits. Larger firms may offer common benefits such as life insurance, health insurance, and a pension. Only about 5 percent of workers in the wholesale trade industry were union members or were covered by union contracts in 2002, compared with about 15 percent of the entire workforce.