The PayScale Index » Highlights (US)

Q4 2013: Buying Power of Wages Down

Wages Grew Just a Tiny Bit More Than Predicted

In the Q3 release of The PayScale Index, we forecasted U.S. national wages would grow 0.1 percent between Q3 and Q4 2013. The actual quarterly growth calculated for this release was 0.2 percent.

For Q1 2014, we predict wage growth to be a slight uptick of 0.2 percent, resulting in annual wage growth of 0.7 percent

But Real Wages Are Still Behind 2006 Levels

Last quarter we also introduced the PayScale Real Wage Index, which tracks the percentage change in real wages since 2006. This measures the buying power of the income for a typical full-time, private industry worker. Our calculation shows that even with continued growth, current wages still have less buying power than they did in 2006.

Winners and Losers

This quarter was a bit of a mixed bag. Some measures experienced great wage growth (e.g., Tampa metro area, social service jobs, etc.), while others had a significant fall quarter-to-quarter (e.g., the transportation and warehousing industry, retail jobs, etc.)

  • Wage growth in the oil & gas sector is now fully recovered from the Q2 dip, rising above their previous peak in Q1 2013. Wages in the Oil and Gas industry have now grown 18 percent since 2006 – the largest growth by far.

  • Food Service experienced both ups and downs this quarter. Wages dropped 0.2 percent this quarter, but were up 0.7 percent year-over-year, putting them in third place for annual growth across included industries. Food service jobs did better with quarterly growth of 0.3 percent and annual growth of 1.9 percent.

  • For the first time in more than a year, wages fell in the Transportation sector. Wages fell 0.8 percent this quarter for the transportation industry, but annual growth was 1.2 percent. Wages for transportation jobs also fell this quarter by 0.9 percent.

  • Wages for the tech sector continued to heat up, but remain below previous flame points. After some sluggish growth in early 2013, wages for IT jobs rose 0.2 percent over the quarter and 1.2 percent over the year.

  • After a steep rise to the top, wage growth for small companies fell below both medium and large companies. Wages in Q4 2013 fell by 0.2 percent for small companies, but grew by 0.1 percent for large companies and by 0.5 percent for medium companies.

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Methodology for The PayScale Index: Trends in Compensation
The PayScale Index tracks quarterly changes in total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees in the United States. In addition to a national index, it includes separate indices for specific industries, metropolitan areas, job categories, and company sizes. The PayScale Index uses 2006 average total cash compensation as a baseline.

See full methodology for compensation trend reports.

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