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30 Employee Compensation Guidelines for Transit Providers in Rural and Small Urban Areas Compensation in Relation to Unemployment Rates Although it was postulated that unemployment rates would influence wage rates (i.e., higher unemployment would mean lower wages), the survey data do not substantiate this except in a few job categories (namely operations supervisors, maintenance clerks, and CDL drivers). Unemployment rates may influence hiring decisions in other ways because systems operating in areas with higher unemployment rates tend to have a lower percentage of part-time staff. The weak relationship between unemployment rates and wages may be affected by the fact that unemployment rates do not vary consistently with system size or by the urban/rural nature of the service area (the two main factors that appear to explain wage levels). Summary of Compensation Factors Wages are most highly correlated with the following key variables: The rural or urban nature of the service area. Inclusion of an urbanized area and proximity to the nearest urban area means higher wages (whether the service area includes an urbanized area is the better descriptor). The region of the country (BLS, APTA). The BLS regions are the better descriptors of rural and small urban transit wages. The size of the system. Larger systems, in terms of number of employees, operating costs, and total number of vehicles, pay higher wages (the total number of employees is the best variable describing system size). Although wages vary consistently with the type of service (e.g., fixed-route systems pay more) and the type of organization (e.g., governmental units pay more), these differences are not as sig- nificant. Further variations are co-dependent with the rural/urban nature of the service area and size of the system. Overall, systems with higher wages have better benefits. However, benefits are most highly cor- related with five other key variables: Urban/Rural. Small urban systems (S.5307) have better benefits than rural systems (S.5311). Type of Organization. Governmental units have better benefits. Size of System. Larger systems, in terms of the number of employees, operating costs and total number of vehicles, have better overall benefit levels (again, the total number of employees is the best variable describing system size). Type of Service. Systems operating fixed-route services have better benefits. Staff Characteristics. Systems have better benefits if they don't use volunteers, have unions, and have fewer part-time staff.