Local Pay Reports: Pay Growth Reaches 2.6 Percent in November

December 4, 2018

As the end of the year approaches, wage growth for American workers is surging ahead at a robust pace.

The latest edition of the Glassdoor Local Pay Reports shows that median base pay for full-time workers increased to $52,943 per year in November, up 2.6 percent from last year. That’s also up from October’s revised pay growth of 2.5 percent and marks the fifth consecutive month of pay growth over 2 percent. While wage growth has not continued its acceleration from mid-2018, it has stabilized now at a healthy pace. With wages rising to attract increasingly scarce workers, this sustained pay growth is a positive indicator that the labor market remains strong.

The upward trajectory in pay seen on Glassdoor is clear in the chart below. The green line shows the steady increase in median base pay since January 2016. The blue line shows that the year-over-year percentage growth in annual pay has increased steadily from a low of 0.9 percent in January 2018 — passing the 2 percent threshold in July and holding steady since then at around 2.5 percent.

Even as volatility shakes financial markets on Wall Street, stable and robust pay growth is a positive bookend for 2018 for the American worker on Main Street.

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

Pay Gains by Metro

Tech hub San Francisco was the metro with the fastest annual pay growth for a fourth month in a row, with median base pay rising 4.6 percent to $71,420 per year, higher than any other U.S. metro we track. It was followed by New York City (up 4.0 percent to $63,288 per year), Washington, D.C. (up 3.2 percent to $61,297 per year) and Boston (up 3.0 percent to $60,783 per year).

The Philadelphia metro area grew the slowest amongst U.S. metro areas at 2.3 percent, up to $55,996 per year. Chicago (up 2.4 percent to $57,211 per year) and Houston (up 2.5 percent to $56,159 per year) rounded out the bottom three metros. Despite the spread in year-over-year growth, all 10 of the metros we track experienced faster pay growth in November compared to October, signaling a strong labor market in economic hubs across the U.S.

Here’s a list of median base pay and growth for all 10 metros in our November 2018 Local Pay Reports:

Area Median Base Pay YoY %
U.S. National $52,943 2.6%
San Francisco $71,420 4.6%
New York City $63,288 4.0%
Washington, D.C. $61,297 3.2%
Boston $60,783 3.0%
Seattle $63,030 2.8%
Atlanta $54,850 2.8%
Los Angeles $61,798 2.6%
Houston $56,159 2.5%
Chicago $57,211 2.4%
Philadelphia $55,996 2.3%

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 November:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Bank Teller $31,444 9.1%
Maintenance Worker $41,023 6.3%
Cashier $28,338 5.8%
Pharmacy Technician $32,441 5.7%
Solutions Architect $105,969 5.5%
Attorney $99,859 5.1%
Operations Analyst $57,162 4.9%
Bartender $33,497 4.8%
Truck Driver $54,479 4.6%
Security Officer $35,700 4.6%

There are several themes that stood out in the November 2018 Local Pay Report:

  • With the holiday season in full-swing, e-commerce has already logged strong wins with consumers in the U.S. spending a record $7.9B online on Cyber Monday. As the sector booms, workers that support it, like truck drivers and delivery drivers, are seeing strong wage growth as well. Even now, the American Trucking Association estimates that there is an unmet need for 50,000 additional truck drivers. We expect e-commerce growth and the increased demand for trucking and shipping to drive higher wages for workers in these roles.
  • Pay for workers with both technical and non-technical skills like solutions architects and operations analysts is on the rise. As the tech industry has matured, the need for workers has evolved beyond just technical talent to the ability to scale businesses. Additionally, companies in other industries have looked to adopt best practices from tech, whether it be scientifically-minded management, new technology or data analytics. As both of these trends accelerate, the demand for workers who can translate technical know-how into business outcomes should continue to drive up wages.
  • As the labor market tightens further, low-wage jobs like bank tellers, cashiers and bartenders are seeing strong annual pay growth. Minimum wage increases over the last year have rippled upward to boost pay growth even for jobs above-but-near the minimum wage. Additionally, these trends are likely to continue into 2019 as Arkansas and Missouri voters approved ballot initiatives last month to raise their minimum wages in addition to Amazon setting a new $15 minimum wage for its workers.
  • Attorneys are experiencing robust pay growth as the market for legal skills heats up. After the Great Recession, a surge in people returning to school drove up competition for legal jobs in the following years. As the supply of workers with legal skills normalizes, the strength of the overall economy should continue to put upward pressure on wages.

Lowest Pay-Growth Jobs

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

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Project Manager $69,867 -4.8%
Producer $51,097 -3.3%
Insurance Agent $41,938 -0.5%
Loan Officer $45,086 -0.3%
Design Engineer $72,148 -0.1%
Communications Manager $68,982 0.4%
Physical Therapist $75,639 0.4%
Pharmacist $125,168 0.5%
Consultant $73,077 0.7%
Warehouse Associate $41,586 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 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 November Local Pay Reports:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Pharmacist $125,168 0.5%
Solutions Architect $105,969 5.5%
Attorney $99,859 5.1%
Data Scientist $98,428 1.8%
Product Manager $94,726 3.5%
Tax Manager $93,372 1.7%
Software Engineer $88,110 3.4%
Professor $87,793 1.6%
IT Manager $81,532 1.6%
Systems Engineer $79,711 1.8%

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

Lowest Paying Jobs

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

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Barista $24,973 4.4%
Cashier $28,338 5.8%
Restaurant Cook $29,270 4.0%
Certified Nursing Assistant $29,291 3.5%
Retail Key Holder $29,720 2.0%
Research Assistant $30,295 1.7%
Bank Teller $31,444 9.1%
Pharmacy Technician $32,441 5.7%
Medical Assistant $33,338 2.0%
Bartender $33,497 4.8%

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

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.