Research Shows: Raise Pay to Keep Up with the Competition

In the retail and service economy, employers compete not only work environment and benefits, but also on pay. For a barista making the median yearly wage of $24,194 as of August 2017, the average year-over-year increase of 5.7% can make a meaningful difference in spending power.

Glassdoor’s August 2017 Local Pay Reports revealed that this past month’s wages grew the quickest for those with retail and service oriented jobs. While the national average pay increase was 2.0%, to $51,556 per year, the jobs with the fastest growing wages in the nation included baristas (up 5.7% to $24,194), restaurant cooks (up 4.7% to $28,628), cashiers (up 3.7%to $27,701) and servers (up 3.3% to $33,654).

In addition to service jobs, wages for truck drivers in August grew 5.7% to $52,079 to meet the increasing demands of the online retail industry. “We continue to see pay growth rise for truck drivers, in part because of increased demand for the rapid transport of consumer retail goods that have been purchased online. While there is some concern that in the future self-driving trucks may negatively impact truck driver jobs, it’s not happening today, and there is still a high demand for actual people in the driver’s seat,” said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor chief economist.


There’s good news if you’re a recruiter: wages in August grew by 5.2% to $50,483. So if you haven’t gotten a raise this year, here’s proof that you should ask for one. Look at results for your job in your city to find out how close to the national average wage growth is for your role, and also check out our Know Your Worth tool for more customized information.

When looking at overall wages by major metro, San Francisco and Boston grew the fastest, at 2.4% each.  Of the 10 cities monitored by Glassdoor, wages in Houston grew the slowest, by only 0.5%. Expect abnormal results for Houston next month as the area recovers from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.


The good news for the economy is that wage growth is rising again after 6 straight months of decline or stagnation. “We will be watching eagerly to see if this starts a trend in the opposite direction. We are also closely watching retail, and while the holiday season is still months away, retailers are already making preparations to fill short-term positions in time for the holiday buying rush,” said Dr. Chamblain. If you’re hiring retail, trucking, or service workers, just make sure you include accounting for increased wages in your preparations.