Employees in the Philadelphia region earned more than the national average in almost all major categories of occupations in 2005, according to a survey released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Labor.

But to really make money in management, business and financial occupations, it might be a good idea to consider a move northwest on Route 422.

Salaries in the Reading area significantly outstripped Philadelphia-area salaries in that category, even though Philadelphia's pay in management, business and financial occupations topped the national average.

In fact, Reading businesspeople earned more than those in any community - even New York and San Francisco.

"It does illustrate the positive business aspects of the Reading" area, said Edward Swoyer, director of the Greater Berks Development Fund, a nonprofit economic-development group in Reading.

Swoyer is not quite sure why Reading would outstrip places like New York, but he pointed to a number of large national businesses, including Sovereign Bancorp Inc., based near Reading.

It could also be a matter of the numbers, explained Labor Department economist Gerald Perrins. In a large area like Philadelphia, there would be lots of workers in business and finance, so the wage range would be broad and the average lower. In a smaller region, such as Reading, "if you have a few that are paid extremely well, relative to the others, you are going to bring that average up."

Besides Reading, San Francisco and New York, business workers in Boston; Anchorage, Alaska; Providence, R.I.; and Salinas, Calif. earned more than those in the Philadelphia area.

The Labor Department yesterday published its "pay-relatives" surveys.

The Web-based reports (www.bls.gov/ncs/ocs/payrel.htm) allow researchers to click on a particular region and establish that region as the norm, making it easy to see whether other areas pay less or more in broad occupational groups.

Not every metropolitan region is covered - just a statistical sampling. For example, the Allentown area is not included.

The department defines the Philadelphia metropolitan area as Southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and parts of Delaware and Maryland.

Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or jvonbergen@phillynews.com.