Wage Growth Still Lags Economic Recovery, Data Shows

Declining wages seen for STEM jobs while other sectors show some rebound; metro areas vary

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Apr 13, 2015
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National wages in the U.S. for the first quarter of 2015 barely increased at 0.1 percent, and the average 12-month change in U.S. wages across all industries was 1.8 percent, according to the first quarter (Q1) 2015 PayScale Index, released on April 9 by PayScale, a compensation consultancy.

Overall, the index also showed wage growth continuing to lag, as real (inflation-adjusted) wages are down almost 7 percent since 2006, a measure calculated by analyzing nominal wage growth and the average change in price of a fixed basket of goods and services.

U.S. Metro Wage Growth

The top five U.S. metro areas experiencing the highest annual wage growth in the first quarter were:

San Diego (3.0 percent).

Miami (2.9 percent).

San Francisco (2.8 percent).

Phoenix (2.4 percent).

Philadelphia (2.3 percent).

The two U.S. metros experiencing the lowest annual wage growth were:

Minneapolis (0.8 percent).

Boston (0.7 percent).

IT Jobs See Wage Decline

Previously top-performing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) focused jobs, in sectors such as scientific and technical services, experienced a decline in the first quarter. Wages for previously hot-performing IT fell slightly and have been relatively flat for several months. Annually, science and biotech jobs grew just 1 percent over the past 12 months, experiencing the lowest wage growth of any category. However, these jobs are still near the top for wage growth since 2006 (approximately 10 percent), due to remarkable growth for several years.

Meanwhile, real estate and construction jobs, which saw wages decline in recent years, are now showing signs of recovery.

“We saw wage growth in certain industries and jobs shift in Q1 as some previous high-performers, such as IT and biotech jobs, moved down the Index and others that were lagging, like construction and real estate, showed considerable improvement,” said Katie Bardaro, lead economist at PayScale, in a news release. “While there are signs of life with some wage growth in certain pockets, the national average shows wages are still lagging far behind other indicators in our rebounding economy.”

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him on Twitter @SHRMsmiller.

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