Local Pay Reports: U.S. Wage Growth Ticks Up to 1.2 Percent in April

Although it’s been a slow start for U.S. pay growth in 2018, things are likely about to change. Wage growth grew again in April, a sign that pay growth may soon begin to accelerate as we head into the summer months.

The latest edition of the Glassdoor Local Pay Reports shows average wage growth in America ticked up slightly in April, rising 1.2 percent from a year ago to $51,927 per year. April’s pay gains are the fastest we’ve seen in 2018 so far, however, it’s still below the 2-3 percent pace seen in recent years, according to the latest real-time salary data shared by millions of Americans on Glassdoor.

The anticipated pick up in wage growth is more clearly visible if you step back and look at what’s happened over the last year for wages. The figure below shows that although median base pay (the green line) has risen steadily over the past two years to $51,927 in April, wage growth (the blue line) slowed dramatically mid-2017. Wage gains hit a low in January 2018 at 0.7 percent pay growth and have rebounded to 1.2 percent year over year this month.

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

Pay Gains by Metro

Among the ten metros we track, the fastest annual pay gains were in the rapidly growing tech hub of San Francisco, where pay rose 3.7 percent from a year ago to $69,392 per year — by far the highest median base pay of any metro we track. In 2018, San Francisco maintains the coveted “sweet spot” for pay in America — both high average pay and faster than average pay growth.

The second-highest pay growth in April was once again seen in Houston (up 2.5 percent to $55,736 per year), followed by Seattle (up 2.4 percent to $61,597 per year), and Washington, D.C. (up 2.0 percent to $59,851 per year).

Houston has been one of the most interesting metros to watch this year, with sharp increases in year-over-year pay growth. The Texas metro previously ranked last among the 10 metros we track — largely due to weak oil prices hurting energy job growth in that region. However, average pay has surged recently as oil prices have crept close to $70 per barrel, putting Houston’s pay growth at second highest nationally in April among the 10 metros we track.

Once again, Chicago saw the slowest pay growth among the ten metros we track in April, where median base pay was up just 0.7 percent to $56,195 per year. Other metros with weak pay gains in April include Los Angeles (up 1.2 percent to $60,499 per year), and Boston (up 1.4 percent to $59,421 per year).

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

Area Median Base Pay YoY %
National $51,927 1.2%
San Francisco $69,392 3.7%
Houston $55,736 2.5%
Seattle $61,597 2.4%
Washington DC $59,851 2.0%
Atlanta $53,732 1.9%
New York City $61,590 1.8%
Philadelphia $55,485 1.6%
Boston $59,421 1.4%
Los Angeles $60,499 1.2%
Chicago $56,195 0.7%

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 April:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Financial Advisor $55,296 6.4%
Bank Teller $30,066 5.5%
Attorney $101,817 4.7%
Truck Driver $53,878 4.5%
Delivery Driver $38,955 4.4%
Web Developer $65,414 3.9%
Network Engineer $71,433 3.6%
Cashier $27,923 3.4%
Web Designer $51,875 3.4%
Security Officer $35,321 3.3%

There are several themes that stood out among the jobs with the fastest pay growth in April:

  • Financial advisor again saw the fastest growing pay in April, with wage growth up 6.4 percent nationally from one year ago to $55,296 per year. Financial advisors help people maneuver through many of life’s big financial questions, from the latest tax laws to retirement and more. This requires strong personal and communication skills, which remain hard to automate and contribute to the high demand.
  • Pay growth remained strong among engineering jobs in April. Among tech engineering jobs, network engineer pay rose 3.6 percent to $71,433 per year, while systems engineer pay rose 1.8 percent to $79,193 per year. Pay growth was strong for may traditional engineering jobs as well, including mechanical engineer (up 2.3 percent to $74,789 per year), design engineer (up 2.3 percent to $71,809 per year), and civil engineer (up 1.9 percent to $67,620 per year). One exception is quality engineer — a common manufacturing job — where pay fell sharply by -1.5 percent from a year ago to $71,467 per year.
  • Pay growth was steady for many lower-paying jobs in April — a sign that today’s strong labor market may be starting to improve pay across the income spectrum. Pay rose at a healthy pace for retail cashier (up 3.4 percent to $27,923 per year), security officer (up 3.3 percent to $35,321 per year), and bank teller (up 5.5 percent to $30,066 per year) this month.
  • E-commerce jobs related to shipping and package delivery continue to see strong pay gains in April. Pay for delivery drivers was up 4.4 percent from a year ago to $38,955 per year and salaries for truck drivers were up 4.5 percent to $53,878 per year. This is a consistent trend we’ve seen in our data over the past year.

Lowest Pay-Growth Jobs

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

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Professor $86,166 -3.3%
Communications Manager $65,882 -2.5%
Quality Engineer $71,467 -1.5%
Bartender $31,668 -1.4%
Maintenance Worker $39,907 -1.4%
Research Assistant $30,391 -1.2%
Technician $45,318 -1.1%
UX Designer $76,003 -0.9%
Project Manager $73,575 -0.6%
Consultant $72,120 -0.6%

Among jobs with slow pay growth today, professor again topped the list for weakest gains in April with a -3.3 percent drop in median base pay from a year ago, down to $86,166 per year. This diverse job title contains a wide range of academic job opportunities, but overall reflects a weak job market facing faculty at many of the nation’s financially struggling colleges and universities.

Other jobs with weak pay growth in April include quality engineer (down -1.5 percent to $71,467 per year) a classic manufacturing job in a sector experiencing weak job growth in America. Similarly, pay for communications managers fell -2.5 percent to $65,882 per year — likely reflecting the consolidation of the media industry, as many former journalists have transitioned into public relations roles in recent years.

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 April Local Pay Reports:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Pharmacist $127,822 1.9%
Solutions Architect $102,589 2.3%
Attorney $101,817 4.7%
Tax Manager $97,327 2.4%
Data Scientist $95,879 0.3%
Product Manager $93,367 2.6%
Software Engineer $86,403 1.5%
Professor $86,166 -3.3%
Systems Engineer $79,193 1.8%
Process Engineer $78,313 1.5%

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

Lowest Paying Jobs

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

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Barista $24,400 2.9%
Cashier $27,923 3.4%
Restaurant Cook $28,897 3.0%
Retail Key Holder $28,982 1.7%
Certified Nursing Assistant $29,119 1.7%
Bank Teller $30,066 5.5%
Research Assistant $30,391 -1.2%
Pharmacy Technician $30,605 3.2%
Bartender $31,668 -1.4%
Server $33,238 1.4%

You can view the full list of highest and lowest paying jobs as of April 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 164,000 new jobs and an unemployment rate at 4.0 percent in April. 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.