It's interesting to see what other people earn.

But as you view salary information such as the "What People Earn" feature in today's Parade magazine, remember that it can be tricky to compare paychecks across the nation.

Annual wages in Pima County tend to be lower than the national average.

In 2011, the median annual wage in Pima County was $32,892, compared with $34,465 nationally, according to the most recent estimates available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That's a difference of about 4 percent, but wages tend to vary with the local cost of living. And Pima County's cost of living is about 3.5 percent lower than the U.S. average.

But no matter where you show up for work, it pays to be at the top.

Top executives of companies, government agencies and nonprofit organizations regularly pull down six-figure salaries, not including hefty pension benefits and perks.

According to BLS data including compensation for all employers - including private employers - chief executives in Pima County earned an estimated median salary of $159,412.

See the chart on Page D2 for a rundown of compensation for top execs at some of Tucson's biggest employers and public companies.

By the numbers

Median wages for various occupations in Pima County, 2011


Chief executives


Customer-service representatives


Human-resources managers


Loan officers


Computer programmers


Electrical engineers


Medical assistants