PayScale Index shows wilting wages for STEM jobs

Is the bloom off the STEM rose? According to the new PayScale Index, wages for previously hot performing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) jobs grew just 1.0% annually, experiencing the lowest wage growth in any category. In fact, wages for STEM jobs have been relatively stagnant for months.

So is it time to stop offering your engineer candidates’ top dollar? Not necessarily. This slow-down is more of a reflection of STEM’s hot streak growth in 2014, versus a testament to the decline of the industry. “After incredible growth, the industry is kind of taking a breather this quarter,” said Tim Low, PayScale Vice President of Marketing. In fact, even with this decline, these jobs are still near the top for wage growth since 2006 (approximately 10 percent), due to remarkable growth for several years.

“STEM growth is a double-edged sword,” says PayScale Lead Economist Katie Bardaro. “The industry’s growth doesn’t seem so impressive this quarter, but that’s largely due to the fact that it has been so impressive in the past and it is difficult to consistently maintain that momentum. They’ve just set an incredibly high bar.”

Additionally, Bardaro adds, it is important to dig into the details and not make rash decisions on blanket numbers. “The nuances of each industry are fluid and ever-changing. Therefore, when looking at broad trends for IT jobs, for example, you aren’t getting at the nuances that a C# developer is less in demand than developers fluent in more in-demand skills (e.g., Hadoop, React, etc.). Therefore, even if we observe a slowdown in the broad category of IT, it doesn’t mean this isn’t still a hot field.”

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PayScale Marketing Vice-President Tim Low echoes this sentiment, saying “Remember, there is more than one job economy. It is in smaller segments (geo, or job family or industry) where differences emerge. That’s why you need to dig into the data to really get a clear view of your market, in order to make precise business decisions and remain competitive.”

In summation, in the words of great marketers everywhere, STEM is dead; long live STEM. Don’t red-line your Mountain Dew fountain and bottomless Doritos budget just yet.

Want to see the full compensation trend report? Check out the all-new PayScale Index.





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2 Comments on "PayScale Index shows wilting wages for STEM jobs"

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Lynda B

Some questions to consider: Has anyone looked at the experience level of the STEM jobs that appear flat in salary increases? Are these at all levels, or just senior level? Are we capping out with senior level jobs in STEM, and need to look at creating more entry level or junior positions? OR do we have too few step increases in STEM jobs, and people are reaching salary caps too soon?

Crystal Spraggins
Hi Lynda: We asked Katie Bardaro to check out your questions, and she did! Here’s her response: “The PayScale index looks at how the market has changed for the same pool of workers over time. In the case of STEM workers, our pool consists of both entry level (0-5 years of work experience) and senior level workers (at least 10 years of experience). The ratio of the two groups remains constant from quarter to quarter. We’ve observed no significant difference in the annual growth to signal the wage slowdown is more prevalent in one group versus the other. The PayScale… Read more »