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Do quaternary industries offer higher-paid jobs than tertiary or manufacturing industries?

Relevant Topics

This question pertains to topics in Microeconomics, such as Labour Economics, and Industrial Economics


Quaternary Industries: These are knowledge-based sectors which include services such as information technology, research and development (R&D), information generation and sharing, media, and consulting services.

Tertiary Industries:
These comprise the services sector of an economy, including activities like retail, transportation, health care, and financial services.

Manufacturing Industries:
These are industries that involve the production of goods in large quantities, often through the use of machines and assembly lines.

Detailed Explanation:

Whether quaternary industries offer higher-paid jobs than tertiary or manufacturing industries largely depends on the specific roles within these industries and the skills and qualifications required. As a general rule, jobs in the quaternary sector, which is highly knowledge-intensive, tend to require advanced degrees or specialised skills. Thus, they often command higher wages compared to jobs in the tertiary or manufacturing sectors that may require less formal education.

However, it's important to note that there can be considerable wage variation within each sector. For instance, in the tertiary sector, a financial analyst at a bank (which requires a high level of skill and education) would typically earn more than a retail sales assistant. Similarly, in the manufacturing industry, a skilled technician or engineer would likely earn more than an assembly line worker.


In the United Kingdom, the average salary in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector, a key quaternary industry, was approximately £36,000 per annum in 2020, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This was higher than the average wage in the retail sector (a tertiary industry), which stood at around £19,000 per annum, and also higher than the average wage in manufacturing, which was about £28,000 per annum.

In the United States, the average annual wage in the software publishers industry, a segment of the quaternary sector, was about $112,600 in 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This was significantly higher than the average wage in the health care sector (a tertiary industry), which was around $50,930, and also higher than the average wage in the manufacturing sector, which stood at about $49,130.


In summary, on average, quaternary industries tend to offer higher-paid jobs than tertiary or manufacturing industries, primarily due to the advanced degrees or specialised skills they require. However, there is a significant variation in wages within each sector, with certain roles in tertiary and manufacturing industries commanding higher salaries due to their skill and education requirements. As illustrated by examples from the UK and US, the average salaries in key quaternary sectors tend to outpace those in tertiary and manufacturing sectors. However, the factors like the cost of living, labour market conditions, and demand for specific skills also play a crucial role in determining wages in these sectors.

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