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2012 Plan: Grab Those Growing Wages


Are wages levels really trending up in the U.S.? You betcha they are. According to The PayScale Index, for the second quarter in a row, the annual growth rate for wages, in most locations and sectors it covers, is the strongest it has been in three years.

The PayScale Index follows changes in wages for workers in 20 U.S. metros, 15 industries, three company sizes and 19 job categories, as well as national and metro wage trends in Canada. Looking at the U.S. national trends chart below, you can see that the recession hit most of us hard in the last few years but, now? Things are, like the line on the chart below, looking up.

Screen Shot 2012-04-04 at 6.30.52 PM

“Construction was one of the industries hit the hardest in the Great Recession. So, any good sign for one of the hardest hit industries is an encouraging sign for the economy overall,” says PayScale’s lead analyst, Katie Bardaro. Bardaro points to the fact that wages in construction stopped plummeting in Q1 of 2011 and, by Q1 of 2012, are showing some of their quickest annual growth since 2008.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Curious if you should ask for a raise? See our infographic for advice.

Where Should You Go to Find Growing Wages?

If you’re willing to move, the towns with the fastest growing wages are Seattle, Houston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Dallas and Washington, D.C.

If you’re open to a new industry, try mining/gas, utilities, transportation, manufacturing and (believe it or not) construction.

Or, are you ready for a new career field? Find a gig in transportation, social services, architecture/engineering, IT, healthcare or human resources.

Bardaro also reminds us that, “Wages at large companies have been consistently growing. If you’re looking for a place where wage increases are real, large companies are the place to be.”

Warning: Wages Here Still Dropping

There is one place where you won’t see wage growth or even flat wages. For workers in the food service and accommodation industry, wages continue to drop, down 0.2 percent over the last twelve months. How about we all help our friends at hotels and restaurants around the country and go on vacation for change?

For more detail on The PayScale Index, see the methodology or watch this video.


(Photo credit: wools/Flickr)

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