Ted Herlofson  

One of the most difficult areas to administer for those of us in Ministerial Services has been the Area Wage Adjustment program. The concept of area wage adjustment is fairly simple — to compensate those who have been required to move into areas where the living costs are higher than those upon which their salaries were based. Salaries have been administered from Pasadena, and the pay scales set based on salaries in the Los Angeles area. Therefore, we have adjusted upward the salaries of those living in areas where the cost of living exceeded that of the Los Angeles area.

Translating the area wage adjustment concept into an equitable program has been difficult because of a lack of suitable information. Individual perception — the individual concerned making judgments based on his own feelings about his area — hasn't been shown to be a reliable guide. This is the main weakness, among others, that led to the failure of the Third Tithe Housing Subsidy system. In that system, serious inequities developed.

Reports in newspapers and magazines have proven to be misleading and unusable for our purposes. They have data on a very limited number of cities and often their data isn't of a suitable nature. Also, we learned in discussions with the head of the Los Angeles office of the Department of Labor that their statistics aren't applicable to our needs.

We have, for several years, used information from the American Chamber of Commerce Research Associates. We feel their data is accurate, sufficiently broad in coverage, and applicable to the Area Wage Adjustment program. In addition we recently have had a cost of living report prepared specifically for the Church by the Runzheimer and Company consulting firm. This seems, thus far, to be the best information available to us. It is only from this kind of factual basis that we can equitably administer the Area Wage Adjustment program.

Over the past six years as the cost of living has gone up all across the nation, it has gone up even faster in the Pasadena/Los Angeles area. The result has been that fewer and fewer areas have been eligible for area wage adjustment; and now according to the latest, most accurate information available to us, no area in the United States is eligible.

According to a May 1979 report produced for us by Runzheimer, the Pasadena area has higher living costs than any of the other areas studied which included in descending order: Pasadena, Honolulu, San Francisco/Oakland, Anchorage, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York City/Northeast New Jersey, Boston, and Seattle.

Having talked to a number of men in some of the traditional high-cost areas, I know that it's hard to perceive of the shift in living costs that has been, happening across the country. However, those of us living in the Los Angeles basin know there has been a change.

All of us across the country will find it necessary, in the face of increasing inflation, to be more selective on how we spend our money: and may have to revise downward certain aspects of our living standards. Making do with less is never easy, but that is essentially what is being forced on us by inflation.

For those few individuals who presently are receiving an area wage adjustment, we will not be making any revisions immediately. We feel it may be best to make any changes gradually and hopefully in conjunction with cost of living adjustments.

In a future Pastor's Report, we want to discuss other aspects of cost of living, transfer costs, and purchasing houses. We are continuing to study this important area and want to keep all of you informed of the latest available facts.

Ted Herlofson, Ministerial Services



If you or any members have questions regarding John D. Siemasko, a disfellowshipped member, please contact John D. Hammer at (615) 452-0876.

Ministerial Services

Back To Top

Pastor General's ReportJuly 02, 1979Vol 3 No. 25