National (US) Pay Trends


National Wage Growth, Q2 2020

since last quarter
year over year
since 2006

Highlights Q2 2020

In the number one spot for Q2, Seattle grew by 1.2 percent Q/Q and 3.6 percent Y/Y. San Jose, San Deigo, and Los Angeles come just behind Seattle with nominal wage growth of 1.2 percent Q/Q while San Francisco came in fifth with nominal wage growth of 0.9 percent Q/Q and 3.2 percent Y/Y.

Houston saw the weakest Y/Y growth at 1.1 percent and Q/Q growth of 0.4 percent, which can be attributed to the dropping price of oil and the Saudi-Russia price war. Minneapolis saw only slightly higher Y/Y growth than Houston, at 1.4 percent, and quarterly growth at 0.3 percent. Minneapolis’ economy may have been negatively impacted by rioting.

The Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation industry defends the number one spot in Q2 of 2020. Nominal wages grew by 1.2 percent Q/Q and 3.3 percent Y/Y. Technology takes the number two spot, with 1.1 percent nominal wage growth Q/Q and 3.1 percent Y/Y. Industries that saw more wage growth may be benefiting from social distancing protocols. Alternatively, lay-offs among lower-paid workers in this sector may have skewed wages to higher averages.

The energy & utilities industry remained at the bottom of our list. Nominal wages grew 0.8 percent Q/Q and grew 1.9 percent Y/Y. Accommodation & food services landed in second to last with 0.3 percent Q/Q growth and 2.0 percent growth. Manufacturing also continues to struggle, with 0.7 percent Q/Q growth, and 2.2 percent growth Y/Y.

Defending the top spot since last quarter, nominal wages for transportation jobs grew 4.5 percent Y/Y and 1.3 percent Q/Q. Information technology jobs took second place with 1.1 percent Q/Q nominal wage growth and 3.0 percent Y/Y nominal wage growth. Retail jobs saw 2.8 percent growth Y/Y and 0.8 percent growth Q/Q in nominal wages, which may be the result of increased wages for frontline workers or the effect of some shops opening back in some areas.

Human resources jobs, in the middle of the pack last quarter, are now at the bottom of our list for nominal wage growth. Nominal wages for HR jobs grew 0.6 percent Q/Q and 2.0 percent Y/Y. Food service & restaurant jobs also dropped significantly through the ranks with a Q/Q wage growth rate of 0.4 percent and Y/Y wage growth rate of 2.1 percent. Hiring freezes, furloughs, and layoffs may have disproportionately impacted workers in these professions.

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Real Wage Index

Since 2006, wages have risen 16 percent overall in the U.S. But when you factor in inflation, “real wages” have actually fallen 9 percent. In other words, the income for a typical worker today buys them less than it did in 2006. The PayScale Real Wage Index incorporates the Consumer Price Index (CPI) into The PayScale Index (which tracks nominal wages) and looks at the buying power of wages for full-time private industry workers in the U.S.

Real Wage Growth, Q2 2020

since last quarter
year over year
since 2006

The PayScale Index: National Real Wage Index (US)

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Methodology for The PayScale Index: Trends in Compensation

The PayScale Index tracks quarterly changes in total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees and education professionals in the United States. In addition to a national index, it includes separate indices for specific industries, metropolitan areas, job categories, and company sizes. The PayScale Index uses 2006 average total cash compensation as a baseline.

See full methodology for compensation trend reports.

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