Despite Strong Steady Job Growth and Labor Market, Wage Growth Remains Sluggish Slow 2017 Wage Growth Not Matching Inflation Rate, Glassdoor Research Shows Among Top Metros, Fastest Wage Growth is in San Francisco, Up 2.2%, and Washington, DC, Up 1.9%; Chicago Slowest, Up 0.1% YOY

MILL VALLEY, CALIF. (January 30, 2018) – According to job site Glassdoor, the annual median base pay in the United States grew 0.9 percent year over year (YOY) in January 2018 to $51,364. The Glassdoor Local Pay Reports show pay growth ticked down slightly from a revised 1.0 percent growth last month. Pay growth peaked in January 2017 at a revised 3.4 percent.

The Glassdoor Local Pay Reports provide a unique monthly view into the country’s wage picture with salary estimates for nearly 85 job titles and year-over-year pay growth trends in the United States. The reports include details on 10 major metros: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

“Pay growth continues to be slow nationally, up just 0.9 percent from a peak in January 2017 of 3.4 percent. Wage increases especially took a hit in late spring of last year, and they are still recovering. Given steady job growth and a strong labor market, we anticipate wages will rise in the next several months. Our robust economy and healthy labor market provide us with a promising outlook for an increase in wages in the coming year,” said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist of Glassdoor.

Lagging Wage Growth in 2017 Brings Down Real Wages for Workers

A separate Glassdoor Economic analysis of Local Pay Report salary data and the consumer price index from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed the consistently slow wage growth in 2017 has not kept pace with inflation across the 10 major metros. Real wage, or the pay workers take home after accounting for inflation, has declined in each of the metros examined. Chicago saw the largest average real wage growth at 1.4 percent per year between November 2014 and November 2017, although pay growth dipped into negative territory in late 2017. Atlanta saw the slowest real wage growth (-0.1 percent per year) over the same three-year period.

“Real income – the actual amount of goods and services people are able to purchase with their paychecks – has been impacted by the lethargic wage growth, wages are not keeping pace with rising inflation. Real wages fell in all 10 metros we track throughout 2017. We expect this trend to reverse, with either stronger wage gains or softening inflation rates as we continue into 2018, bringing real wage gains back into positive territory for most of the country,” said Patrick Wong, economics data scientist at Glassdoor.  

Health Care and E-Commerce Pay Continue to Make Gains

Wages in health care and e-commerce industries have been on the rise, and this trend continued in the first month of 2018. Medical technologist saw the biggest median base pay increase in health care and near the top overall for jobs, up 4.1 percent to $54,747, while emergency medical technician also saw growth (up 2.6 percent to $35,023).

The strong holiday season and the increasing shift in shopping habits from brick-and-mortar to online continues to fuel growth among e-commerce roles. Delivery driver wages saw the third  largest increase in pay this month (up 4.0 percent to $38,720), followed by warehouse associates (up 2.6 percent to $42,179), and truck drivers (up 2.5 percent to $52,783).

“Over the last several months the jobs with the fastest wage growth have consistently been in the health care and e-commerce industries, and that trend is likely to continue in the first quarter of this year. Labor shortages in these industries account for an escalation of pay as employers look to entice qualified candidates. Only when that demand is met will wages begin to level off and pay growth will slow,” continued Chamberlain.

Wage Growth in Finance Industry on the Rise

Several roles in finance are seeing slight wage gains above the national average, including financial advisor (up 1.4 percent to $52,766), financial analyst (up 1.3 percent to $62,386) and claims adjustor (up 1.1 percent to $51,055). Lower skill jobs in this category, like bank teller (up 3.0 percent $28,821), are also experiencing a significant increase in pay.

“The stock market is booming in the wake of federal tax cuts, and this is reflected in this month’s increase in pay among financial advisors and analysts. People are interested in investing again, which may be due in part to end-of-year bonuses and roles directly associated with investing benefitting from an increase in pay. Lower skilled roles, like bank tellers, are also seeing wage growth, likely because of near rock-bottom unemployment rates,” noted Chamberlain.

Mixed Results for Tech Industry: Wages for Specialized Tech Roles Fall, Others See Growth

Some high paying roles in the technology industry are experience a softening in pay, including solutions architect (down 0.9 percent to $101,922) and programmer analyst (down 0.8 percent to $67,369), and wages for specialized roles like java developer (down 0.5 percent to $74,768) are also on the decline. However, positions like technical support (up 3.6 percent to $45,818) and web developer (up 2.8 percent to $64,195) continue to see YOY growth that far outpaces the national average.

“The demand for highly specialized expertise in a singular technical language such as java is being replaced by a need for talent that’s fluent in many components needed to be a developer today and build back-end systems. On the flip-side, front-end roles, like web developer and designer, are seeing increases in pay as demand for better customer experiences rise,” continued Chamberlain.

Other jobs experiencing the biggest declines in YOY pay growth in January include loan officer (down 3.7 percent to $44,609), bartender (down 2.5 percent to $31,562), professor (down 2.0 percent to $87,127) and machine operator (down 2.0 percent to $38,299) topped the list.

Jobs with the Fastest Pay Growth
Rank Job Title % Wage Growth YoY

(Jan 2017-Jan 2018)

Median Base Pay
 1 Restaurant Cook 5.4% $28,958
2 Medical Technologist 4.1% $54,747
3 Delivery Driver 4.0% $38,720
 4 Technical Support 3.6% $45,818
5 Paralegal 3.3% $48,593
 6 Bank Teller 3.0% $28,821
 7 Sales Representative 3.0% $46,165
 8 Web Developer 2.8% $64,195
9 Emergency Medical Technician 2.6% $35,023
10 Warehouse Associate 2.6% $42,179

For a list of jobs with the biggest pay declines, visit the Glassdoor Economic Research blog.  

Fastest Pay Growth in San Francisco and Washington D.C.; Chicago Sees Slow Wage Gains

Among the 10 metros tracked, wage growth was fastest in San Francisco (up 2.2 percent to $68,328), and Washington, DC (up 1.9 percent to $59,269). Chicago had the slowest growth, up 0.1 percent to $55,726.

Wage Growth by U.S. Metro
Rank Area % Wage Growth YoY

(Jan 2017-Jan 2018)

Median Base Pay
United States 0.9% $51,364
1 San Francisco 2.2% $68,328
2 Washington DC 1.9% $59,269
3 Atlanta 1.8% $53,415
4 Boston 1.7% $58,774
5 New York City 1.7% $61,042
6 Los Angeles 1.5% $59,906
7 Seattle 1.1% $60,549
8 Houston 0.4% $54,660
9 Philadelphia 0.4% $54,240
10 Chicago 0.1% $55,726

For more on jobs with the highest and lowest pay, visit the Glassdoor Economic Research blog.  

The full data sets for the Glassdoor Local Pay Reports can be found on the Glassdoor Economic Research site, along with report methodology and Frequently Asked Questions.

To read more trends and insights from Chamberlain on this month’s report or his predictions regarding the January Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Employment Situation Report, visit the Glassdoor Economic Research blog.

Any individual can also keep tabs on their personal worth in their local job market through Know Your Worth by Glassdoor. Visit Glassdoor or download the Glassdoor Job Search apps for iPhone or Android.

To speak with Dr. Chamberlain regarding the Glassdoor Local Pay Reports or his predictions for this month’s jobs report:


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