Local Pay Reports: Pay Growth Heats Up in August

Summer may be winding down, but wage growth for American workers is heating up.

The latest edition of the Glassdoor Local Pay Reports shows median base pay for full-time workers rose to $52,461 per year in August, up 2.4 percent from a year ago. That’s up from the revised 2.3 percent pace last month and is the fastest pace of pay gains we’ve recorded at Glassdoor since May 2017 — more evidence that the nation’s historically low unemployment rate is translating into pay gains for more workers today.

The upward trend of pay growth on Glassdoor in recent months is clear in the chart below. It shows U.S. growth in base pay for full-time workers over the past two years according to salaries reported on Glassdoor. The green line shows the steady rise in median base pay since January 2016. The blue line tracks the annual year-over-year percentage pay growth over the same period.

Pay growth slowed last winter, but the annual pace of pay gains has risen steadily since March 2018, reaching last month’s 2.4 percent annual pace. It’s an upward trend we expect will continue through the rest of 2018.

Source: Glassdoor.com/research.

Let’s take a closer look at what happened in August with U.S. salaries on Glassdoor.

Pay Gains by Metro

Among metros, the fastest year-over-pay growth in August was in the tech-heavy labor market of San Francisco, where median base pay rose 3.2 percent from a year ago to $69,887 per year — the highest base pay of any U.S. metro we track. They were followed by Los Angeles (up 2.6 percent to $61,137 per year), Philadelphia (up 2.5 percent to $55,859 per year) and New York City (up 2.5 percent to $62,338 per year).

The slowest median pay growth we recorded in August was in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C., where median pay rose 1.3 percent from a year ago to $59,990 per year. They were followed by the energy-rich metro of Houston (up 1.6 percent to $55,481 per year), and Boston (up 1.7 percent to $59,712 per year).

Here’s a list of median base pay for all ten metros in our August 2018 Local Pay Reports:

Area Median Base Pay YoY %
U.S. National $52,461 2.4%
San Francisco $69,887 3.2%
Los Angeles $61,137 2.6%
Philadelphia $55,859 2.5%
New York City $62,338 2.5%
Atlanta $54,237 2.4%
Seattle $61,929 2.3%
Chicago $56,636 2.3%
Boston $59,712 1.7%
Houston $55,481 1.6%
Washington DC $59,990 1.3%

Jobs with the Fastest Pay Growth

Among the 84 job titles we track each month, here are the ten jobs with the fastest growth in median base pay for full-time workers from one year ago in August:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Bank Teller $31,007 8.0%
Maintenance Worker $42,487 7.5%
Bartender $34,224 6.5%
Property Manager $53,066 6.1%
Financial Advisor $54,622 6.0%
Pharmacy Technician $32,182 5.8%
Material Handler $37,058 5.3%
Cashier $28,085 5.1%
Barista $24,960 4.8%
Human Resources Manager $71,600 4.7%

There are several themes that stood out in the August report:

  • Several low-wage jobs experienced strong pay gains. Barista, cashier and bartender have experienced above average pay gains throughout 2018. That continued last month — likely due to a combination of historically low unemployment and state and local minimum wage increases that have rolled out throughout 2018.
  • HR managers experienced strong wage gains as employers add workers to their payrolls. This demand for human resources experts to help companies manage growing workforces is likely a bullish sign that employers are expecting today’s healthy pace of job gains to continue.
  • Financial advisors saw pay gains in August. The major federal tax law coupled with a rising stock market means Americans are looking for smart financial advice and investment options, which appears to be translating into pay gains for financial professionals this summer.  
  • Maintenance workers registered strong pay growth this month. While this role still pays below the U.S. average, it’s one we expect to rise steadily. As workplace automation continues to expand, so too will be those who can help keep facilities running smoothly. This is especially relevant as e-commerce demand continues to build.

Lowest Pay-Growth Jobs

Here are the ten jobs with the lowest wage growth in August, compared to one year ago:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Network Engineer $64,953 -6.7%
Insurance Agent $40,073 -4.7%
Warehouse Associate $39,964 -2.3%
Project Manager $71,404 -1.9%
Physical Therapist $73,227 -1.5%
Producer $50,684 -1.1%
Communications Manager $67,776 -0.5%
Professor $86,115 -0.3%
Program Manager $74,020 -0.1%
Recruiter $51,217 0.1%

While all pay growth is the result of both supply and demand for workers, these jobs offer useful clues about where any remaining pockets of weakness are in today’s otherwise strong labor market.

Highest Paying Jobs

Jobs with the highest pay growth aren’t always the ones with the highest earning potential. Here are the jobs with the highest U.S. median base pay from our August Local Pay Reports:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Pharmacist $125,605 2.1%
Solutions Architect $103,827 2.5%
Attorney $99,420 4.2%
Data Scientist $97,364 1.3%
Product Manager $93,332 3.1%
Tax Manager $91,679 1.4%
Software Engineer $87,317 2.7%
Professor $86,115 -0.3%
Process Engineer $79,485 2.5%
Systems Engineer $79,107 1.5%

Once again, three fields dominated the highest paying jobs in August: Health care, tech, and professional services. Pharmacist, solutions architect, attorney, and data scientist topped our list as the jobs with the highest U.S. median base pay in the August Local Pay Reports.

Lowest Paying Jobs

Finally, here is a list of the ten lowest paying jobs in the August Local Pay Reports:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Barista $24,960 4.8%
Cashier $28,085 5.1%
Restaurant Cook $29,073 4.4%
Certified Nursing Assistant $29,095 4.1%
Retail Key Holder $30,122 3.8%
Research Assistant $30,328 1.5%
Bank Teller $31,007 8.0%
Pharmacy Technician $32,182 5.8%
Medical Assistant $33,408 3.7%
Bartender $34,224 6.5%

You can view the full list of highest and lowest paying jobs as of August 2018 here.

How Does it Work?

Like the Know Your Worth tool by Glassdoor, Local Pay Reports incorporate millions of salaries directly collected from U.S. workers by Glassdoor and apply a proprietary machine-learning algorithm to estimate near-real-time trends in local pay for ten U.S. metros and the nation as a whole.

The Local Pay Reports estimate year-over-year growth in median base salaries by job title for 84 jobs across more than 15 job categories including health care, technology, retail and more. The reports also estimate median base pay by industry and employer size and provide a monthly trend of metro-level median base pay for each local market over the past four years.

Our Local Pay Reports fill an important gap in our knowledge about wage growth at the local level for specific jobs. Official BLS “Occupational Employment Statistics” are updated only once per year and use broad occupational groupings that can be confusing for job seekers. Local Pay Reports are released monthly—using the latest data from Glassdoor—and show pay for actual job titles that are easy for non-economists to understand.

Read more in our full methodology and FAQs.

Monthly Jobs Report Expectations

The latest jobs report from the federal government is due out on Friday. This month, we expect to see 163,000 new jobs created and an unemployment rate steady at 3.9 percent in August. See our full analysis for more commentary and predictions here.

To learn more or subscribe to the monthly email alerts, visit: https://www.glassdoor.com/research/. The Glassdoor Local Pay Reports can be found here: https://www.glassdoor.com/research/local-pay-reports/.

Press inquiries: To speak with Dr. Andrew Chamberlain about this month’s report, email pr@glassdoor.com. Follow him on Twitter: @adchamberlain.