PayScale Index Shows Wages Barely Keeping Pace with Inflation Across the U.S. and “Real Wages” Still Far Below Pre-Recession Levels
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PayScale Index Shows Wages Barely Keeping Pace with Inflation Across the U.S. and “Real Wages” Still Far Below Pre-Recession Levels

Silicon Valley and New York City lead in growth while Phoenix and Milwaukee lag.

Seattle, WA – January 17, 2018 – Today, PayScale Inc, the leader in cloud compensation data and software for businesses and individuals, released the Q4 PayScale Index, which tracks quarterly and annual trends in compensation and provides a U.S. wage forecast for the coming quarter.

The Q4 index showed wages experienced uneven growth across the U.S. Wages saw nominal growth of 2.7 percent nationally while real wages only increased 0.5 percent, after factoring in inflation. Workers are still feeling the aftershocks of the Great Recession as they continue to earn far less in “real wages” than they did before the economic crisis.

“Although widely believed by political leaders that rising stock prices lead to higher wages, the two haven’t actually been correlated since prior to 1980,” said Katie Bardaro, Vice President of Data Analytics and Chief Economist at PayScale. “So while the stock market is experiencing unprecedented growth, The PayScale Index has shown wages have barely kept pace with inflation for the typical full-time worker. However, we are seeing higher wage growth for in-demand jobs as the tightening of the labor market continues and demand for these workers outpaces supply. Therefore wage growth is likely to continue for these roles, but many of the benefits of the stock market increase will be reaped by shareholders and executives vs. the average worker.”

Here are the key findings from the Q4 2017 PayScale Index:

  • Silicon Valley (San Jose) and New York City tied for the fastest year-over-year wage growth of 2017 while other cities lagged.
    • San Jose, CA at 3.6 percent
    • New York City, NY at 3.6 percent
    • Pittsburgh, PA at 3.5 percent
    • Milwaukee, WI at 1.8 percent
    • Philadelphia, PA at 1.8 percent
    • Phoenix, AZ at 1.5 percent
  • Pittsburgh experienced a growth spurt. After a dismal Q3, wages in Pittsburgh rebounded 1.7 percent quarter over quarter, landing a spot in the top three cities for wage growth along with San Jose and New York City.
  • The Transportation and Warehousing industry land the top spot for wage growth (3.3 percent), despite having a slow Q4 with a nominal growth of 0.2 percent.
  • Construction had the strongest quarter over quarter growth in Q4 (1.2 percent), possibly due to a destructive hurricane season.
  • Unexpected wage winners by job family in Q4 include Media and Publishing, Transportation and Manufacturing production jobs.
    ○ Media and Publishing jobs at 4 percent year-over-year growth
    ○ Transportation and Manufacturing Production jobs at 3.4 percent year-over-year growth
  •  Art and design (1.9 percent), architecture and engineering (2.1 percent) and marketing & advertising jobs (2.1 percent) had the lowest nominal year-over-year growth rates.

To view the entire interactive Q4 2017 PayScale index which reflects wage trends across various industries, job categories, company sizes and major metros, including Canada, please visit:

About PayScale:

As the industry leader in compensation data and technology, PayScale helps organizations #getpayright. PayScale is the only technology solution for managing compensation that provides multiple streams of fresh, transparently curated, and validated salary data. Combined with modeling engines that learn continuously and generate recommendations and insight, PayScale empowers HR to price jobs and adjust compensation to reflect near real-time changes in the market — all on one trusted data platform. With PayScale’s Adaptive Compensation Advantage, teams operate with efficiency, focused on outcomes rather than manual data management. To learn how companies like The Washington Post, Perry Ellis International, United Healthcare and The New York Times rely on PayScale to attract and retain top talent, engage employees and plan their future workforce, visit

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