National (US) Pay Trends


National Wage Growth, Q3 2020

since last quarter
year over year
since 2006

Highlights Q3 2020

San Jose edged out Seattle in Q3, with nominal wages in San Jose growing by 0.7 percent Q/Q and 3.4 percent Y/Y. Seattle came in second place with nominal wage growth of 0.6 percent Q/Q which is a strong drop from 1.2 percent Q/Q growth for Seattle in Q2.

Houston remains at the bottom of the list with the weakest Q/Q growth at 0.7 percent and Y/Y growth of 1.7 percent. The metro’s economy is largely influenced by the price of oil, which was in decline before COVID-19 due to the Saudi-Russia price war. Minneapolis is second from the bottom with nominal wage growth of 0.7 percent Q/Q and 1.8 percent Y/Y.

The Technology industry is ranked above Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation in Q3 of 2020, but both have a nominal wage growth of 0.6 percent Q/Q and 3.0 percent Y/Y.?Industries that saw more wage growth may be benefiting from social distancing protocols. Alternatively, lay-offs among lower-paid workers in this sector may have skewed wages to higher averages.

Agencies & Consultancies ranks at the bottom for wage growth by industry with nominal wage growth of 0.4 percent Q/Q and 1.9 percent Y/Y. The recession resulting from COVID-19 has likely caused many businesses to cut expenses for contractors and consultants. The energy & utilities industry is now second from the bottom of our list with nominal wages growing 0.7 percent Q/Q and 2.0 percent Y/Y.

Transportation shot to the top of the rankings in Q1 of 2020 and remained in the top ranking in Q2 and now in Q3 with nominal wage growth of 0.6 percent Q/Q and 3.8 percent Y/Y. A social distancing economy that relies heavily on transportation services for the shipment and delivery of goods may explain this sustained wage growth.

Human resources jobs, which were in the middle of the pack at the beginning of the year, have now been in the bottom rank for two quarters. Nominal wages for HR jobs grew 0.6 percent Q/Q and 2.0 percent Y/Y in Q3, which is the same as Q2. Hiring freezes, furloughs, and layoffs may continue to disproportionately impact the work of HR professionals as hiring, training, and personnel administration has been curtailed by the COVID-19 recession.

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Real Wage Index

Since 2006, wages have risen 16.8 percent overall in the U.S. But when you factor in inflation, “real wages” have actually fallen 8.8 percent. In other words, the income for a typical worker today buys them less than it did in 2006. The PayScale Real Wage Index incorporates the Consumer Price Index (CPI) into The PayScale Index (which tracks nominal wages) and looks at the buying power of wages for full-time private industry workers in the U.S.

Real Wage Growth, Q3 2020

since last quarter
year over year
since 2006

The PayScale Index: National Real Wage Index (US)

?2020 PayScale, Inc.

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Methodology for The PayScale Index: Trends in Compensation

The PayScale Index tracks quarterly changes in total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees and education professionals in the United States. In addition to a national index, it includes separate indices for specific industries, metropolitan areas, job categories, and company sizes. The PayScale Index uses 2006 average total cash compensation as a baseline.

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