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PayScale Index Q3 2018: Wages Remain Sluggish Despite a Robust Economy

Topics: Growth

Despite many positive economic indicators, nominal wages tick slightly down while real wages hold steady in Q3.

While GDP continues to grow, unemployment remains at historic lows and corporate profits are on an upward trajectory, these measures have not translated to robust wage growth.Click To Tweet

wage growth remains anemic.

Many economic indicators point to a robust economy: GDP continues to grow, unemployment remains at historic lows and corporate profits are on an upward trajectory. However, these improvements have not translated to meaningful wage growth for American workers.

The PayScale Index tracks quarterly and annual trends in compensation. The latest Index for Q3 2018 shows that nominal wages fell by 0.1 percent and real wages held steady quarter over quarter (Q/Q). Due to inflation rising faster than wage growth, workers in Q3 2018 are earning 1.8 percent lower “real wages” than they did a year ago.

For information on how the PayScale Index relates to other economic indicators, please see our comparison of the PayScale Index and the Employment Cost Index as well as various measures of weekly hourly earnings.

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Austin takes a tumble; San Francisco remains strong; Raleigh added to our metro analysis.

Austin had a difficult Q3 with the worst annual wage growth of all the metro areas included in the analysis. Nominal wages fell 0.6 percent Q/Q and 1.4 percent year over year (Y/Y). For the first time, we have included the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC area in our metro analysis. Workers in the Research Triangle saw nominal wages grow by 0.7 percent Q/Q and 1.2 Y/Y.

Blue collar jobs take a hit, while marketing & accounting jobs have healthy growth.

Nominal wages fell for transportation; manufacturing & production; and installation, maintenance & repair jobs. Transportation jobs experienced the largest decline with nominal wages falling 1.3 percent Q/Q and 3.8 percent Y/Y. Nominal wages grew by 3.5 percent Y/Y and 0.5 percent Q/Q for marketing & advertising jobs.

These INdustries saw the most dramatic changes.

The real estate industry saw a minor 0.1 percent decline in nominal wages Q/Q, but at 1.7 percent increase Y/Y, this industry still posted the highest Y/Y nominal wage growth.

Nominal wages in the transportation & warehousing industry grew by 0.3 percent Q/Q, however, they are still 1 percent below where they were a year ago.

To see more detailed wage trends, check out the PayScale Index on our website.

To get a deeper dive into how real wages are trending for workers in different cities in the decade since the Great Recession, check out this piece on our blog.


What is your organization projecting for your 2019 compensation budget? Are you projecting an increase relative to this year’s budget, for the budget to stay the same, or to decrease? We want to hear from you. Tell us your story in the comments.

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