PayScale Index Q2 2019: Nominal Wages Up 2%, But Real Wages Up Just 0.2% Year Over Year

The latest data release of the PayScale Index is now available. This index tracks quarterly and annual trends in compensation. Additionally, it provides a wage forecast for the coming quarter.

We publish the quarterly PayScale Index to help employers understand how average wages are changing quarter by quarter and year by year. You can look up data by geography: national and metro level. You can also look up data by firm size, job category and industry. 

Real Wages Are Down 0.8 Percent Year Over Year

The most recent Q2 Index revealed nominal wages grew 0.3 percent since Q1 and 2.0 percent year over year. However, the slight growth in nominal wages did not equate to substantial real wage growth. In fact, the Index shows that real wages actually fell by 0.8 percent from the last quarter, and rose just 0.2 percent from a year ago. This meager growth means less buying power for the average American consumer. 

U.S. Real Wage Growth By Quarter

Quarter Q/Q Real Wage Growth Rate Y/Y Real Wage Growth Rate
2017 Q3 0.2% 0.6%
2017 Q4 0.1% 0.2%
2018 Q1 -0.2% 0.1%
2018 Q2 -2.0% -1.9%
2018 Q3 -0.3% -2.4%
2018 Q4 1.1% -1.3%
2019 Q1 0.4% -0.8%
2019 Q2 -0.8% 0.2%

San Francisco and Milwaukee Top Metro Areas for Growth

Once again, the San Francisco metro area leads the U.S. in wage growth. Largely fueled by a strong tech sector and mounting population growth, the San Francisco metro area experienced an impressive annual wage growth of 4.5 percent. 

Milwaukee experienced annual wage growth of 3.5 percent, the second highest in the country. Education, health services, manufacturing, leisure and hospitality were the top growth sectors for this metro area. 

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh and Cleveland experienced the least amount of growth, with annual wages increasing just 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

You can drill down metro area statistics here:

Transportation & Warehousing and Retail & Customer Service Top Growth Industries 

As the US population grows, so does the need for transporting people and goods from one location to another. Additionally, cargo needs to be warehoused once it reaches its destination. Hence, transportation & warehousing was the fastest growing industry in the US, with 4.1 percent year over year growth. 

Despite attention-grabbing headlines declaring retail to be dead, wages in the retail and customer service industry remain strong. More than ever retailers are using technology to optimize the customer experience. Additionally, as younger populations transition to adulthood and parenthood, their need to acquire more goods and services increases. Thus, retail and customer service posted 2.7 percent wage growth over the previous year – the second highest percentage of any industry. 

Find out more about industry growth here:

Learn More

You can explore the entire interactive Q2 2019 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: