Local Pay Reports: Pay Growth Slows to 1.3 Percent in February

March 5, 2019

2019 is off to a rocky start with annual pay growth decelerating to 1.3 percent in February.

The latest edition of the Glassdoor Local Pay Reports shows that median base pay for full-time workers was $52,672 per year in February, up only 1.3 percent from last year. Additionally, wage growth in January was revised downwards to 2.0 percent from 2.3 percent—another worrying sign for the state of the labor market.

The last few months have included the worst December for stock markets since the Great Depression, the longest-ever government shutdown in January and geopolitical uncertainty around trade with China ramping up in February. In addition, while the December 2017 tax cuts helped stimulate wage growth in 2018, as their effects weaken, wage growth will be hard-pressed to keep pace with last year’s growth.

Conversely, these headwinds may be temporary with the stock market rallying in January, the shutdown over and a trade deal with China in the works. Additionally, a surprise jump in the labor force participation rate in January may indicate that wage growth is being held low by persistent slack in the labor market as more workers enter and stay in the labor force.

While we expect temporary negative effects to dissipate in the coming months, weakening pay growth is still a warning sign for the labor market as 2019 kicks off.

Source: Glassdoor.com/research.

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

Pay Gains by Metro

Tech hub San Francisco saw the fastest annual pay growth for the seventh month in a row, with median base pay rising 2.5 percent to $71,444 per year, higher than any other U.S. metro we track. It was followed by Boston (up 2.4 percent to $60,941 per year), Seattle (up 2.3 percent to $62,756 per year) and Los Angeles (up 2.3 percent to $61,739 per year).

Amongst the metro areas with the slowest pay growth, the Houston area had stagnant pay growth at 0.0 percent, equal to $55,601 per year from last year. Chicago (up 1.7 percent to $57,090 per year) and Philadelphia (up 1.8 percent to $56,524 per year) rounded out the bottom three metros.

Here’s a list of median base pay and growth for all 10 metros in our February 2019 Local Pay Reports:

Area Median Base Pay YoY %
U.S. National $52,672 1.3%
San Francisco $71,444 2.5%
Boston $60,941 2.4%
Seattle $62,756 2.3%
Los Angeles $61,739 2.3%
Washington, D.C. $61,202 2.2%
Atlanta $54,921 2.2%
New York City $63,479 2.0%
Philadelphia $56,524 1.8%
Chicago $57,090 1.7%
Houston $55,601 0.0%

Jobs with the Fastest Pay Growth

Among the 84 job titles we track each month, here are the 10 jobs with the fastest growth in median base pay for full-time U.S. workers from one year ago in February:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Bank Teller $31,725 6.8%
Pharmacy Technician $31,167 6.5%
Bartender $33,209 6.4%
Cashier $28,166 5.2%
Truck Driver $55,435 5.1%
Maintenance Worker $41,013 4.1%
Security Officer $35,293 3.7%
Office Manager $47,479 3.6%
Material Handler $37,123 3.5%
Property Manager $52,490 3.2%

There are several themes that stood out in the February 2019 Local Pay Report:

  • Amazon’s decision to abandon a new headquarters in New York City made headlines in February. While New York City and Amazon both will have no trouble attracting talent without each other, the move represents an opportunity for Washington, D.C. where Amazon’s other new headquarters is planned. Tech jobs in the nation’s capital still pay less than in New York City—software engineers make $9,532 more in New York City than in D.C., data scientists $6,569 more and product managers $1,606 more—but Amazon’s new HQ2 may help D.C. attract more high-skill tech talent. The increasing demand may help close the pay gap with New York City and position D.C. as a prime hub for tech talent.
  • Data scientists saw wages decline 1.4 percent in February, the largest monthly decline since 2016. As the field has risen in prominence, enrollments in data science programs and bootcamps has exploded. This huge increase in supply for limited entry-level jobs is holding down wages. Similarly, to ride the wave of popularity and attract high-quality talent, companies are increasingly using the data scientist title for other roles such as data analyst or statistician. This muddling of job titles is changing the composition of the data scientist workforce and holding down wages as a result.
  • Office manager and property manager saw healthy wage growth in February. An increased focus on experience and quality of service in the office, motivated by the rapid expansion of companies like WeWork, may be encouraging employers to pay more for higher-skill office and property managers. Additionally, in a competitive hiring environment, investing in a better workplace experience is a low-cost method for employers to attract top-talent.
  • Low-wage jobs like bank tellers, cashiers and bartenders are seeing strong annual pay growth. Increases in the minimum wage across 21 states and D.C. in 2018 are the likely driver and that trend is likely to continue with increases slated for the same number of states and D.C. in 2019. For lower-wage workers, an extra $1,000-$2,000 annually is a significant boost and is likely to contribute to increased consumer spending at a time when the economy’s growth trajectory is unsure.

Lowest Pay-Growth Jobs

Here are the 10 jobs with the lowest wage growth in February, compared to one year ago:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Loan Officer $45,211 -3.3%
Financial Advisor $52,607 -3.0%
Attorney $96,616 -2.4%
Insurance Agent $42,931 -2.2%
Data Scientist $95,765 -1.4%
Pharmacist $125,487 -1.1%
Web Designer $53,570 -1.1%
Business Development Manager $68,945 -0.9%
Design Engineer $72,179 -0.8%
Sales Manager $61,116 -0.8%

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 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 February Local Pay Reports:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Pharmacist $125,487 -1.1%
Solutions Architect $104,275 3.1%
Attorney $96,616 -2.4%
Data Scientist $95,765 -1.4%
Product Manager $93,731 1.8%
Tax Manager $93,397 1.0%
Software Engineer $87,770 1.9%
Professor $86,908 -0.2%
IT Manager $81,764 0.6%
Systems Engineer $79,874 1.3%

Once again, three fields dominated the highest paying jobs in February: 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 February Local Pay Reports.

Lowest Paying Jobs

Finally, here is a list of the 10 lowest paying jobs in the February Local Pay Reports:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Barista $25,412 3.0%
Cashier $28,166 5.2%
Restaurant Cook $28,737 1.3%
Certified Nursing Assistant $29,124 2.4%
Retail Key Holder $29,342 2.2%
Research Assistant $30,112 2.8%
Pharmacy Technician $31,167 6.5%
Bank Teller $31,725 6.8%
Medical Assistant $33,121 0.3%
Bartender $33,209 6.4%

You can view the full list of highest and lowest paying jobs as of February 2019 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.

Upcoming Monthly Jobs Report

The latest jobs report from the federal government is due out on Friday, so stay tuned for a full analysis from Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain.

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 the Glassdoor Economic Research team about this month’s report, email pr@glassdoor.com.