Local Pay Reports: Wage Growth Ticks Up Slightly in August

August 29, 2017

The latest edition of Glassdoor’s Local Pay Reports revealed some positive news for American workers: median base pay rose 2.0 percent from one year ago to $51,556 per year. That’s up slightly from last month’s revised 1.7 percent pace, and reverses a dismal six-month trend toward lower pay growth according to Glassdoor salary data.

While this slight pickup in wage growth is welcome news for job seekers, wages are still growing well below the historical norm of 3-4 percent per year. However, these latest data may finally signal a trend toward more healthy average pay growth as the U.S. economy hovers near full employment this fall.

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

Pay Gains by Metro

Among the ten metros we track, the fastest average pay growth was in Boston in August, where median base pay for full-time workers rose by 2.4 percent from a year ago to $58,731 per year.

They were followed by the San Francisco metro area where average pay rose by 2.4 percent to $68,164 per year, and by Washington, D.C., where salaries rose 2.3 percent to $59,141 per year.

By contrast, the metro where average pay growth was slowest in August was Houston (up 0.5 percent to $54,538 per year), followed by Atlanta (up 1.6 percent to $53,209 per year), and Chicago (up 1.6 percent to $55,550 per year).

The full Local Pay Reports for all ten metros for August 2017 are available here.

Area Median Base Pay YoY %
U.S. National $51,556 2.0%
Boston $58,731 2.4%
San Francisco $68,164 2.4%
Washington DC $59,141 2.3%
Seattle $60,487 2.1%
Los Angeles $59,972 2.1%
New York City $60,755 1.9%
Philadelphia $54,632 1.8%
Chicago $55,550 1.6%
Atlanta $53,209 1.6%
Houston $54,538 0.5%

Jobs with the Fastest Pay Growth

Among the nearly 85 job titles we track each month, here are the top 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 %
Truck Driver $52,079 5.7%
Barista $24,194 5.7%
Insurance Agent $43,652 5.7%
Recruiter $50,483 5.2%
Bank Teller $28,636 4.9%
Restaurant Cook $28,628 4.7%
Pharmacy Technician $30,592 3.7%
Cashier $27,701 3.7%
Producer $52,935 3.5%
Server $33,654 3.3%

There are several themes in the August report:

  • As retailers prepare for the upcoming holiday season, retail cashiers — a common seasonal hire in the retail world — are experiencing pay growth of 3.7 percent from one year ago, nearly twice the U.S. average.
  • Truck drivers are experiencing solid pay gains of 5.7 percent from a year ago. That continues a trend we’ve seen over the past year. Rising demand for online retail is putting upward pressure on wages for workers like truck drivers, delivery drivers, and warehouse associates that fuel the supply chain of online retail giants.
  • Recruiters continued to enjoy strong pay gains in August, with wages up 5.2 percent from a year ago. As the economy nears full employment, employers today are relying more on passive job candidates, and that’s putting skilled recruiters in high demand.

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 %
Attorney $92,241 -3.0%
Loan Officer $44,832 -1.0%
Field Engineer $68,501 -0.6%
Operations Analyst $53,147 -0.1%
Pharmacist $126,989 -0.1%
Java Developer $75,725 0.4%
Process Engineer $76,369 0.5%
Project Manager $73,374 0.7%
Technician $45,108 0.7%
Design Engineer $71,787 0.8%

Among jobs with weak pay growth, there are several trends in August:

  • While median base pay for attorneys is nearly twice the U.S. average at $92,241 per year, an oversupply of law school graduates in recent years appears to be contributing to slower wage growth, with average pay down 3 percent from a year ago.
  • Automation isn’t just affecting blue-collar jobs. Wages for loan officers and operations analysts are facing downward pressure as well, thanks to growing reliance on apps and self-serve portals for many of the services traditionally delivered by these workers.
  • Two common manufacturing roles appear on the list of slowest pay growth in August: process engineer and design engineer. While not all manufacturing jobs are experiencing weak pay growth today, these two roles are experiencing average pay gains of less than half the pace of the U.S. average.

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 $126,989 -0.1%
Solutions Architect $101,930 2.8%
Data Scientist $96,823 1.6%
Tax Manager $93,618 1.3%
Attorney $92,241 -3.0%
Product Manager $90,693 1.7%
Professor $85,964 2.0%
Software Engineer $85,552 2.4%
UX Designer $78,756 1.9%
Systems Engineer $78,364 2.3%

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

Lowest Paying Jobs

Here is a list of the ten lowest paying jobs in the August Local Pay Reports:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Barista $24,194 5.7%
Cashier $27,701 3.7%
Certified Nursing Assistant $28,389 3.1%
Restaurant Cook $28,628 4.7%
Bank Teller $28,636 4.9%
Retail Key Holder $28,898 1.4%
Research Assistant $30,448 0.9%
Pharmacy Technician $30,592 3.7%
Bartender $33,013 1.7%
Medical Assistant $33,439 1.4%

You can view the full list of highest and lowest paying jobs as of August 2017 

Read more about this month’s report in our press release.

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 nearly 85 jobs across more than 15 job categories including healthcare, 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 169,000 new jobs and an unemployment rate steady at 4.3 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.