December U.S. Wages Up 2.7% Year Over Year – A Slight Slow Down Compared to Last Month

Annual median base pay in the United States grew 2.7 percent year over year in December 2016 to $51,750, according to the Glassdoor Local Pay Reports. Compared to last month, wage growth across the U.S. has slowed slightly from 3.1 percent in November 2016. The Local Pay Reports are a new monthly compensation report from Glassdoor Economic Research, which provide salary estimates for nearly 40 industries and more than 60 job titles in the United States and five major metros: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco.1

“The Glassdoor Local Pay Reports show a slight dip in wage growth across the U.S. compared to last month. With a healthy 2.7 percent year-over-year growth, however, this slowing isn’t cause for alarm. With wages across the nation growing rapidly for in-demand positions like customer service manager, machine operator and recruiter, the economy shows no sign of a slowdown,” said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist of Glassdoor. 

Wage Growth by Metro

Median base pay in Chicago saw the biggest uptick from one year ago, growing 4.0 percent to $56,635. Chicago’s year-over-year wage growth rate is up compared to the 3.1 percent growth the area saw in November. In San Francisco, growth slowed slightly compared to last month, but remained above the national average at 3.7 percent year-over-year wage growth to $65,379 in December (4.0 percent growth in November). That trend was consistent in Los Angeles as median base pay grew 3.4 percent to $59,260 (4.3 percent growth in November), and in New York City as year-over-year pay growth was just slightly above average at 2.9 percent to $60,448 (3.3 percent growth in November). Wages in Houston remain sluggish but ticked up 1.9 percent in December to $54,836, compared to just 1.0 percent growth one month ago. 

Jobs with the Biggest Gains and Declines in Pay

As 2017 begins, white-collar jobs like customer service manager and recruiter continued to see big wage gains as companies increase hiring and sales efforts, according to Chamberlain. Median base pay for customer service managers grew 7.4 percent year over year to $50,526, while recruiter pay increased 6.7 percent to $51,833 in December.

Continued demand for blue-collar jobs that can’t yet be automated is reflected in their rising wages, Chamberlain says. The Glassdoor Local Pay Reports reveal construction laborer (9.4 percent to $38,321), machine operator (7.6 percent to $38,558) and warehouse associate (7.2 percent to $43,609) saw some of the largest wage gains in December.

Some manufacturing roles across the U.S. saw declines in pay compared to last year including quality engineer (-2.9 percent to $73,338) and mechanical engineer (-1.3 percent to $74,025). According to Chamberlain, weak job growth in manufacturing makes it hard for workers to bargain for higher wages. Also, he says, many workers in manufacturing earning the highest wages are retiring and being replaced by younger workers with far lower wages, which pulls down the average pay, resulting in a negative growth rate.

Highest and Lowest Paying Jobs

In addition to the biggest increases and decreases in wage growth, the Glassdoor Local Pay Reports track the highest and lowest paying jobs. In December, the jobs with the nation’s highest median base pay included physician ($202,395 per year), product manager ($94,391 per year) and attorney ($93,453 per year).

By contrast, the jobs with the lowest U.S. median base pay in December included bank teller ($27,754 per year), cashier ($28,787 per year) and restaurant cook ($29,797 per year).

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