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PayScale Index Shows Declining Wages for STEM Jobs

Wage growth stalled for IT, science, and biotech positions, while construction jobs and the real estate industry appear to be rebounding

Seattle, WA – April 9, 2015 – Today, PayScale, Inc., the leader in cloud compensation data and software for businesses and individuals, released the Q1 2015 PayScale Index which tracks quarterly and annual trends in compensation and also provides a U.S. national wage forecast for the coming quarter. The Index shows national wages for Q1 barely increased at 0.1 percent and the average 12-month change in U.S. wages across all industries was 1.8 percent. Of note, previous top performing sectors such as the professional, scientific and technical services industry and the oil and gas industry experienced a decline in Q1. Meanwhile, construction jobs and the real estate industry which saw wages decline in recent years are now showing signs of recovery. Finally, the Index shows wage growth continues to lag, as real wages are down almost 7 percent since 2006, a measure calculated by analyzing nominal wage growth and the average change in price of a fixed basket of goods and services. 

“We saw wage growth in certain industries and jobs shift in Q1 as some previous high performers, such as IT and biotech jobs, moved down the Index and others that were lagging, like construction and real estate, showed considerable improvement,” said Katie Bardaro, Lead Economist at PayScale. “While there are signs of life with some wage growth in certain pockets, the national average shows wages are still lagging far behind other indicators in our rebounding economy.”  

Key findings in the Q1 2015 PayScale Index:

  • STEM focused jobs experienced a slow-down:
    • Wages for previously ‘hot-performing’ IT, engineering, science and biotech jobs fell slightly in Q1 and have been relatively flat for several months. For example, science and biotech jobs grew just 1.0 percent annually, experiencing the lowest wage growth of any category. However, these jobs are still near the top for wage growth since 2006 (approximately 10 percent), due to remarkable growth for several years.
  • Industry Highlights:
    • Although the oil and gas industry experienced the highest total wage growth since 2006 at 19 percent, declining oil prices resulted in the lowest annual wage growth of any industry at 0.8 percent. Similarly, the oil city of Houston experienced a wage dip in Q1 as wages fell 0.2 percent from Q4 2014 and rose only 1.2 percent annually (behind the national average of 1.8 percent).
    • Real estate tied with the wholesale trade industry for the largest annual growth for Q1 at 3 percent and wages in real estate grew more than 5 percent since their low point in Q3 2013. Wage growth in the real estate industry mirrors recent increases in the housing market.
    • Similar to real estate, the construction industry also experienced a recovery with annual wage growth of 2.7 percent. A previous wage loser, annual wage growth for construction jobs topped the list for all job categories with 2.9 percent.
  • U.S. Metro Wage Growth:
    • The top five U.S. metro areas experiencing the highest annual wage growth in Q1 are:
      • San Diego, CA (3.0 percent)
      • Miami, FL (2.9 percent)
      • San Francisco, CA (2.8 percent)
      • Phoenix, AZ (2.4 percent)
      • Philadelphia, PA (2.3 percent)
    • The two U.S. metros experiencing the lowest annual wage growth are:
      • Minneapolis, MN (0.8 percent)
      • Boston, MA (0.7 percent)
  • Canadian Metro Wage Growth:
    • Edmonton, AB had the highest annual wage growth again of any Canadian city at 2.1 percent.
    • Montreal, QC also had a strong year with annual wage growth of 1.8 percent.
    • The oil cities of Edmonton and Calgary still dominate Canadian metropolitan areas for most growth since 2006 at 23.8 and 18.6 percent, respectively.
    • Vancouver, BC and Ottawa, ON had the lowest annual wage growth in Canada at 0.7 and 0.2 percent, respectively. Vancouver saw total growth less than Canada overall (10.9 percent vs. 11.4 percent).
  • United Kingdom:
    • The U.K. continued to show tepid wage increases with Q1 quarterly wage growth up 0.1 percent. U.K. wages grew by 8.3 percent since 2006, falling behind Canada (11.4 percent) and the U.S. (8.6 percent).

To view the entire interactive Q1 2015 PayScale Index which reflects wage trends across various industries, job categories, company sizes and major metros, please visit:

About The PayScale Index:

The PayScale Index follows changes in total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The PayScale Index also includes:

  • A forecast of the National U.S. PayScale Index for Q2 2015
  • A PayScale Real Wage Index, which tracks changes in wages adjusted for inflation since 2006

For more information on The PayScale Index, please visit the methodology and FAQ pages.

About PayScale:

Cloud software, crowdsourced data and unique algorithms power the world’s largest real-time database of rich salary profiles giving PayScale the unique ability to provide job seekers and employers alike immediate visibility into the right pay for any position. PayScale’s cloud compensation software is used by more than 3,000 customers including Bloomberg BNA, Cummins, Warby Parker, Clemson University and Signature HealthCARE. For more information, please visit: or follow PayScale on Twitter:

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