National (US) Pay Trends


National Wage Growth, Q1 2021

since last quarter
year over year
since 2006

Highlights Q1 2021

Maintaining the number one spot since last quarter, nominal wages in Los Angeles grew by 0.7 percent Q/Q and 3.6 percent Y/Y. San Diego and Raleigh round out the top 3, where wages grew by 3.6 percent and 3.3 percent Y/Y, respectively.

Kansas City has stayed at the bottom of the rankings for wage growth. The metro saw 1.6% Y/Y growth and a minimal 0.2% Q/Q growth. The metro area is a manufacturing hub, which is likely less resilient against covid-19 policies and the pandemic economy.

The nonprofits sector has maintained a top spot in previous quarters and now has the largest wage growth alongside real estate industry. Both share 3.3 percent growth Y/Y and 1.0 percent growth Q/Q. With increased demand and lower supply, higher prices have emerged across real estate markets, enabling higher wage growth in real estate. Nonprofits may be enjoying increased funding due to higher demand for social services.

Remaining at the bottom of our rankings since Q3 2020, Agencies & Consultancies saw 0.2 percent Q/Q growth and 1.5 percent Y/Y growth. It is likely that this sector has met its own challenges due to the COVID-19 economy, which may have spurred businesses to drop outside services from this industry due to reduced revenue and funding as the economy has suffered.

After slipping to second in the rankings in Q4, transportation jobs retake the largest nominal wage growth. Nominal wages for these jobs grew 4.0 percent Y/Y and 1.2 percent Q/Q. The social distance economy continues to rely heavily on transportation services for the shipment and delivery of goods, which may explain the sustained wage growth in this sector

Architecture & Engineering jobs remained in last for Q1 wage growth, with 1.8% Y/Y growth and 0.4% Q/Q growth. The Covid-19 pandemic and economy have likely disrupted projects and supply chains that sustain this sector. While projects earlier in the year may have been secured from pre-existing agreements, securing ventures as we are further into the pandemic economy may prove challenging.

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Real Wage Index

Since 2006, wages have risen 18.3 percent overall in the U.S. But when you factor in inflation, “real wages” have actually fallen 8.3 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, Q1 2021

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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