Job Market Report: Job Openings Up 3.5 Percent in September, Pay Up 2.1 Percent

The American labor market continues to grow steadily in September. However, today’s growth is a far cry from the blockbuster job market in 2018. Glassdoor’s latest Job Market Report shows that growth in job openings slowed to 3.5 percent in September, continuing a long-running trend of modest growth in 2019. Job openings on Glassdoor remain just shy of the 6 million mark, indicating a tight labor market with employers still looking for increasingly scarce workers to fill their open roles.

The figure below shows the trend in job openings on Glassdoor since January 2017 (teal line), as well as the year-over-year growth rate in job openings (blue line).

Annual pay growth on Glassdoor ticked up slightly to 2.1 percent in September from 1.9 percent in August, with median base pay rising to $54,179 a year. That’s slightly above the rate of pay growth we’ve seen in the last four months, but still below the 2.6 percent average pay growth we saw in the second half of 2018. Accelerating wages would be a welcome sign that the longest economic expansion on record is passing on gains to American workers after years of stubbornly low wage growth.

The figure below shows the trend in U.S. median base pay on Glassdoor since January 2017 (teal line), as well as the year-over-year growth rate in pay (blue line).

Despite a rocky August with recession chatter near fever pitch, the labor market continues to sustain the economic expansion. Crucially, the Federal Reserve’s decision in September to cut interest rates was in spite of, and not because of, the labor market. Additionally, while the trade war has negatively impacted sectors like manufacturing, consumer spending has been resilient. The risk, however, is that the latest and forthcoming rounds of tariffs on consumer goods could extend the trade war’s impacts to the broader economy. For the time being, Glassdoor data suggests that the labor market is shrugging off trade uncertainty and continuing to plow forward and sustain the economic expansion.

Let’s take a closer look at growth in job openings and pay on Glassdoor in September 2019. 

Local Metro Trends in Job Opening and Pay Growth

  • Boston had the fastest growth in job openings on Glassdoor in September, up 8.4 percent annually. The largest increases in  job openings came from public services sectors like health care & hospitals (+8.7 percent), government (+52.5 percent), and nonprofit (+19.8 percent). Other industries ranging from restaurants & bars (+9.7 percent) to consulting (+15.9 percent) contributed strong gains, signaling the diverse base of growth for Boston’s labor market.
  • San Francisco continued its streak of 14 consecutive months with the fastest pay growth, up 3 percent. However, job openings in the tech hub stagnated, seeing zero growth in job openings year-over-year. San Francisco has had a streak of slow to negative job openings growth in the last few months, even affecting bellwethers like the internet & tech industry, which saw a 14.2 percent decrease in job openings.
  • September marks the 27th straight month of double-digit growth in job openings for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees and the fourth straight month of growth over 20 percent. The cities with the fastest growth in job openings for small business in September were Seattle (+43.3 percent), Atlanta (+30 percent) and Houston (+28.2 percent).

Below is a list of job openings and median base pay growth for all 10 U.S. metros in our September 2019 Job Market Report:

Growth in Job Openings and Pay Across 10 Major U.S. Metros

Area Job Openings YoY % Median Base Pay YoY %
U.S. National 5,960,400 3.5% $54,179 2.1%
Boston 152,683 8.4% $61,987 2.8%
Philadelphia 112,692 6.4% $57,502 1.9%
Atlanta 122,889 5.5% $56,059 3.0%
Washington DC 192,174 5.2% $62,258 2.4%
Seattle 112,634 4.8% $63,980 2.6%
New York City 311,297 2.9% $64,749 2.3%
Los Angeles 219,451 2.0% $63,526 2.8%
Chicago 199,193 1.3% $58,504 2.3%
San Francisco 147,461 0.0% $73,861 3.0%
Houston 97,369 -2.3% $57,108 2.3%

Trends in Job Opening Growth

  • Government job openings were the fastest growing in September (+25.2 percent). The Census Bureau has begun hiring in advance of the 2020 Census, looking for tens of thousands of temporary workers to support early activities. Government job openings have been rising in general in 2019, supported by increased hiring by state and local governments. Civilian jobs supporting the military have also seen a large increase in hiring, with some within the government directly and some in adjacent industries like aerospace & defense (+12.5 percent).
  • Construction job openings grew by 13.7 percent in September, buoyed by a growing housing market being supported by low interest rates. Census Bureau data released earlier this month showed that housing starts rose in August to their highest level since 2007. Construction laborers saw pay increase by 6.2 percent year-over-year, a large increase as companies constrained by labor shortages look to attract more workers to fulfill high demand.

Below are lists of the industries with the fastest and slowest growth in job openings in our September 2019 Job Market Report, followed by growth in job openings segmented by employer size:

Top 5 Industries with Fastest Growth in Job Openings

Industry Job Openings YoY %
Government 128,540 25.2%
Accounting & Legal 49,382 18.7%
Restaurants & Bars 608,905 15.5%
Construction 68,770 13.7%
Aerospace & Defense 101,710 12.5%

Top 5 Industries with Slowest Growth in Job Openings

Industry Job Openings YoY %
Consumer Electronics 9,864 -22.3%
Banking & Financial Services 128,838 -19.6%
Travel & Tourism 88,462 -18.3%
Arts & Entertainment 53,562 -16.6%
Energy & Utilities 51,213 -16.1%

Growth in Job Openings by Employer Size

Employer Size Job Openings YoY %
<51 586,013 22.7%
51-200 488,422 10.4%
201-500 489,827 10.5%
501-1000 326,198 -3.6%
1001-5000 949,792 -1.6%
5000+ 2,629,149 -0.5%

You can view the full dataset of job openings growth by industry and employer size as of September 2019 here.

Trends in Pay Growth

  • Holiday hiring season has kicked off against the backdrop of a changing retail sector and an economic expansion propped up by strong consumer spending.  Both warehouse associates (+6.3 percent) and truck drivers (+4.1 percent) were among the jobs with the fastest annual pay growth in September. Both jobs are fundamental to the logistics backbone supporting the growing e-commerce industry. Retail key holders (4.4 percent) also saw strong annual pay growth, as employers tackle a historically tight labor market with a shortage of experienced workers.
  • Pharmacy technicians and pharmacists saw diverging pay trends in September. Pharmacy technicians saw annual pay increase by 3.9 percent, while pharmacists actually saw pay decrease by 1.9 percent. Companies hiring pharmacy technicians have been squeezed by the tight labor market for lower-wage workers and increasing demand from an aging population. While pharmacists saw pay decrease, they are still perched at #4 on Glassdoor’s recent list of highest-paying jobs.

Below are the jobs with the fastest and slowest year-over-year growth in median base pay for full-time U.S. workers in September:

Top 10 Job Titles with Fastest Pay Growth

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Warehouse Associate $42,864 6.3%
Construction Laborer $42,519 6.2%
Maintenance Technician $46,290 6.0%
Security Officer $36,281 5.2%
Retail Key Holder $30,457 4.4%
Truck Driver $56,685 4.1%
Field Engineer $72,103 4.1%
Web Developer $68,716 4.0%
Sales Manager $65,553 3.9%
Pharmacy Technician $32,909 3.9%

Top 10 Job Titles with Slowest Pay Growth

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Business Development Manager $69,216 -4.2%
Loan Officer $47,062 -2.6%
Pharmacist $125,211 -1.9%
Bartender $34,165 -1.8%
Maintenance Worker $40,916 -1.3%
UX Designer $76,972 -0.9%
Human Resources Manager $70,856 -0.8%
Communications Manager $69,153 -0.5%
Data Scientist $98,671 0.2%
Property Manager $53,269 0.2%

You can view the full dataset of median base pay and pay growth by job title as of September 2019 here.

How Does it Work?

Note: Beginning in April 2019, the Glassdoor Job Market Report launched as an expansion of what was previously known as the Local Pay Reports. The new Job Market Report will publish monthly ahead of the BLS jobs report and now includes newly available data on job openings in addition to pay data previously reported in the Local Pay Reports. 

The Glassdoor Job Market Report provides a real-time view of job and hiring trends and wage growth in the U.S., including several metro areas, based on millions of online jobs and salaries on Glassdoor. As one of the world’s largest job sites, Glassdoor collects millions of job postings from a wide variety of online sources each month. In addition, Glassdoor is a leading source for real-time salary information, based on millions of crowd-sourced salary reports submitted online, voluntarily and anonymously, by current and former employees.

Leveraging the same technology behind Glassdoor’s powerful job search and Know Your Worth products, the Job Market Report applies proprietary data science and machine learning algorithms to Glassdoor data to aggregate and analyze online job openings and estimate wage growth across the nation, including in several U.S. metro areas. 

By publishing and comparing month-by-month job growth and pay growth across the U.S. by metro, industry and more, the Job Market Report offers a fresh, forward-looking and more detailed perspective into how the job market and economy are changing, in relative real-time.

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. Here’s what we’re expecting in the September jobs report:

  • 150,000 new jobs added to payrolls;
  • Unemployment rate steady at 3.7 percent;
  • Average hourly wages up to 3.3 percent; and
  • Labor force participation steady at 63.2 percent.

We expect a solid report in September, reflecting a healthy but slowing labor market bouncing back from a decent but unsatisfying August report. While we expect jobs added to be below average for 2019, Census hiring may boost payroll gains above expectations. For wage growth, last month’s upward revision for July and Glassdoor data showing an uptick in September inform our estimate of a slight acceleration in pay growth.

The Glassdoor Job Market Report can be found at: https://www.glassdoor.com/research/job-market-report/. To learn more or subscribe to receive email alerts about new research, visit: https://www.glassdoor.com/research/.

Press inquiries: To speak with the Glassdoor Economic Research team about this month’s report, any questions regarding the newly launched Job Market Report or this Friday’s BLS jobs report, please email pr@glassdoor.com.