PayScale Q4 Index Shows Real Wages Fell Even Further in 2018
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PayScale Q4 Index Shows Real Wages Fell Even Further in 2018

Seattle, WA – January 9, 2019 – Today, PayScale Inc, the leader in precise, on-demand cloud compensation data and software for businesses and individuals, released the Q4 2018 PayScale Index, which tracks quarterly and annual trends in compensation and provides a U.S. wage forecast for the coming quarter.

The most recent Q4 Index revealed nominal wages grew 1.1 percent since Q3 and 1.0 percent year over year. However, the modest uptick in nominal wages failed to bring real wages out of the red for the year. As a result, real wages fell by 1.3 percent since the end of 2017 which means the average person can purchase less than they could last year when wages are measured in relation to inflation.

“There is no question this is a turbulent period for the U.S. economy which means uncertain wage growth across many jobs and industries and a continual decline in real wages for most workers,” said Katie Bardaro, Chief Economist at PayScale. “Our most recent Index shows technology jobs – along with cities which have a heavy emphasis on technology – are some of the few, consistent winners when it comes to increasing wages in these volatile times.”

Here are the key findings from the Q4 2018 PayScale Index:

Wages for most blue-collar jobs, including manufacturing and transportation, fell last year:

  •       The largest annual wage losses occurred in transportation and manufacturing which fell 3.9 percent and 2.4 percent since the end of 2017, respectively.
  •       In addition, the Energy & Utilities, Construction, and Transportation & Warehousing industries all experienced a decline in annual wages.

The technology industry and marketing jobs remain a bright spot of positive wage growth:

  •       The technology sector topped the list of growth by industry with wages up 2.7 percent over the past year.
  •       Meanwhile, marketing and advertising jobs continued to post impressive wage growth in Q4 with an increase of 5.5 percent over Q4 2017.
  •       In addition, the Real Estate and Finance & Insurance industries also experienced wage growth with both sectors experiencing year-over-year wage growth of 2.4 percent.

California metro areas lead in wage growth:

  •       San Francisco again experienced the largest increase in wages with 4.9 percent increase since last year.
  •       San Jose and San Diego also topped the list of metros with annual wage growth of 3.3 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively.

Wages in Canada were up:

  •       Nationally, wages in Canada grew by 1.9 percent over the past year.
  •       Vancouver topped the Canadian list of metros with increased annual wage growth of 3.2 percent in Vancouver while the oil city of Calgary experienced the slowest wage growth of just 0.6 percent in 2018.

The PayScale Index is a different economic measure than the Employment Cost Index (ECI) reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While the ECI tracks employment costs within organizations, the PayScale Index tracks workers’ wages across various organizations. This means the PayScale Index will capture changes in employees’ wages when they move to a different company, while the ECI does not. There is value in using both the ECI and the PayScale Index to determine relative wage growth in the U.S. economy.

To view the entire interactive Q4 2018 PayScale index which reflects wage trends across various industries, job categories, company sizes and major metros, including Canada, please visit:  For information about the methodology of the PayScale Index, please visit:

About PayScale:

PayScale offers modern compensation software and the most precise, real-time, data-driven insights for employees and employers alike. More than 7,000 customers, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, use PayScale to power pay decisions for more than 18 million employees. These companies include Dish Network, Getty Images, Skullcandy, Time Warner, T-Mobile, Macy’s, Sunsweet, UnitedHealth Group, Stihl and Wendy’s. For more information, please visit: or follow PayScale on Twitter:

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Phyllis McNeice


Tel: 206-954-1481


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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