Local Pay Reports: Pay Growth Hits 2.4 Percent in October

As the November midterm elections approach, wage growth for American workers is holding strong.

The latest edition of the Glassdoor Local Pay Reports shows that median base pay for full-time workers increased to $52,746 per year in October, up 2.4 percent from last year. That’s slightly down from September’s revised pay growth of 2.5 percent, but still marks the fourth consecutive month of pay growth over 2 percent. It’s far too soon to draw any conclusions about shifts in long-term trends as the dip is likely attributable to normal monthly fluctuation or short-term disruptions like Hurricane Michael. Either way, the overall trend of sustained pay growth still indicates a tight labor market that’s driving up wages for many American workers.

The upward trajectory in pay seen on Glassdoor is evident 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 grown steadily from a low of 0.8 percent in January 2018 — passing 2 percent in July and holding steady through October.

With pay growth hovering above 2 percent for several consecutive months, the labor market appears to be set for healthy and steady growth through the end of the year.

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

Pay Gains by Metro

The tech hub San Francisco was the metro with the fastest annual pay growth for a third month in a row with median base pay rising 4 percent to $70,810 per year, higher than any other U.S. metro we track. It was followed by New York City (up 3.4 percent to $63,029 per year), Washington, D.C. (up 2.7 percent to $60,890 per year) and Los Angeles (up 2.6 percent to $61,454 per year).

The Philadelphia metro area grew the slowest amongst U.S. metro areas at 1.9 percent, up to $55,846 per year. Chicago (up 2.0 percent to $56,873 per year) and Houston (up 2.1 percent to $55,914 per year) rounded out the bottom three metros. These three were the only U.S. metros of the 10 we track that experienced pay growth below the national average.

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

Area Median Base Pay YoY %
U.S. National $52,746 2.4%
San Francisco $70,810 4.0%
New York City $63,029 3.4%
Washington, D.C. $60,890 2.7%
Los Angeles $61,454 2.6%
Atlanta $54,607 2.6%
Seattle $62,496 2.4%
Boston $60,471 2.4%
Houston $55,914 2.1%
Chicago $56,873 2.0%
Philadelphia $55,846 1.9%

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 October:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Bank Teller $31,194 8.2%
Bartender $34,516 7.0%
Maintenance Worker $41,055 5.9%
Pharmacy Technician $32,271 5.5%
Operations Analyst $57,514 5.4%
Financial Advisor $54,455 5.4%
Cashier $28,237 5.4%
Restaurant Cook $29,505 5.2%
Programmer Analyst $69,916 4.8%
Attorney $99,193 4.8%

There are several themes that stood out in the October report:

  • Workers in programmer analyst and operations analyst roles experienced healthy wage growth twice the national average. The proliferation of data collection and businesses’ increasing reliance on data-driven insights has created significant demand for workers with programming and data skills. As these skills become more accessible, employers expect analysts to take on work traditionally reserved for expensive and scarce machine learning engineers or data scientists. The democratization of data technologies is increasing productivity for analysts, driving higher wages and enabling more employers to access the benefits of big data.
  • The manufacturing industry remains relatively strong with steady wage growth and job gains. Workers such as material handlers and production managers have seen wages grow well above inflation at 17.9 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively since May 2015. According to Glassdoor data, October job openings in the manufacturing industry are up 22.6 percent annually, another healthy indicator. As reviving American manufacturing remains in the spotlight, we’ll be watching to see whether the robust growth plays a factor in the upcoming November elections in manufacturing-heavy regions.
  • Lower-wage roles like bartender, cashier and restaurant cook continue to see strong annual wage growth off the back of worker shortages in a tight labor market and the minimum wage increases seen across 20 states (and D.C.) in the last year. With more state-level minimum wage increases on the ballot in Arkansas and Missouri this November, this trend could continue into 2019 and beyond.

Lowest Pay-Growth Jobs

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

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Insurance Agent $39,824 -4.9%
Project Manager $70,213 -4.1%
Warehouse Associate $40,787 -1.4%
Producer $51,428 -1.2%
Physical Therapist $75,102 -0.3%
Consultant $72,861 0.2%
Data Scientist $96,720 0.4%
Program Manager $73,996 0.4%
Operations Manager $68,497 0.6%
Pharmacist $124,886 0.6%

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 October Local Pay Reports:

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Pharmacist $124,886 0.6%
Solutions Architect $104,399 3.4%
Attorney $99,193 4.8%
Data Scientist $96,720 0.4%
Product Manager $94,133 3.2%
Tax Manager $92,524 0.8%
Professor $88,329 1.7%
Software Engineer $87,874 3.1%
IT Manager $82,404 2.8%
Process Engineer $79,277 2.2%

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

Lowest Paying Jobs

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

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Barista $24,961 4.5%
Cashier $28,237 5.4%
Certified Nursing Assistant $29,296 3.9%
Restaurant Cook $29,505 5.2%
Retail Key Holder $29,739 2.1%
Research Assistant $30,268 1.1%
Bank Teller $31,194 8.2%
Pharmacy Technician $32,271 5.5%
Server $33,279 1.7%
Medical Assistant $33,428 2.4%

You can view the full list of highest and lowest paying jobs as of October 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 174,000 new jobs created and an unemployment rate steady at 3.7 percent in October. See our full analysis for more commentary and predictions here.

To learn more or subscribe to the regular 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.