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December 26, 2007
The 10 "Most Overpaid" Jobs
Mutual fund managers are the most overpaid workers in the United States, according to a recent column on

In his article, "The 10 Most Overpaid U.S. Jobs And the Little Effort They Require," Chris Pummer of MarketWatch notes that "'fair compensation' is a relative term, yet HR consultants and executive headhunters agree some jobs command excessive pay that can't be explained by labor supply-and-demand imbalances."

Stock-fund managers, Pummer says, "can easily earn $500,000 to $1 million a year including bonuses--even though only 3 in 10 beat the market in the last 10 years."

Second on the list are "Washed-up pro athletes in long-term contracts." While athletes at the top of their game deserve to be rewarded, Pummer says, it's those athletes who "sign whopping, long-term contracts after a few strong years, and then find their talents vanish, who reap unconscionable sums of money." Pummer lays much of the blame on players' unions for "refusing to negotiate contracts based on performance--and driving up the cost of tickets to levels unaffordable for a family of four..."

Absent from Pummer's list are lawyers and actors, as he explains, since many individuals in these occupations get paid little in comparison with more successful counterparts. For example, local prosecutors and public defenders don't make nearly as much as corporate attorneys, and there are several struggling actors for every highly paid movie star.

The complete list of Pummer's "10 Most Overpaid U.S. Jobs" are as follows, with samplings of Pummer's comments on each of the remaining eight jobs.

1) Mutual fund managers

2) Washed-up pro athletes in long-term contracts

3) CEOs of poorly performing companies. "These long-time losers draw multimillion-dollar severance packages as a reward for their failed stewardship."

4) Orthodontists. "This isn't brain surgery: Orthodontists simply manipulate teeth in a growing child's mouth -- and often leave adjustment work to assistants whose handiwork they merely sign off on."

5) Motivational speakers and ex-politicians on the lecture circuit. "Former President Reagan raised the bar back in 1989 when he took $2 million from Japanese business groups for making two speeches."

6) Real estate agents selling high-end homes. "While most agents hustle tail to earn $60,000 a year, those in affluent areas can pull down $200,000-plus for half the effort, courtesy of the fatter commissions on pricier listings."

7) Skycaps at major airports. "Many of the uniformed baggage handlers who check in luggage at curbside at the busiest metro airports pull in $70,000 to $100,000 a year--most of it in cash."

8) West Coast longshoremen. "Unlike their East Coast union brethren who compete with non-union ports in the South and Gulf of Mexico, the West Coast stevedores have an ironfisted lock on Pacific ports. Given their rare monopoly, they can disrupt U.S. commerce...and command exorbitant wages..."

9) Major airline pilots. "The pilot's unions are the most powerful in the industry...In what amounts to a per-passenger commission, the larger the plane, the more they earn--even though it takes little more skill to pilot a jumbo jet."

10) Wedding photographers. "Photographers earn a national average of $1,900 for a wedding, though many charge $2,500 to $5,000 for a one-day shoot, client meeting and processing time that runs up to 20 hours or more, and the cost of materials. The overpaid ones are the many who admit they only do weddings for the income, while quietly complaining about the hassle of dealing with hysterical brides and drunken reception guests."


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