The PayScale Index » Highlights (US)

Q1 2013: A Bump in the Road to Recovery?

The PayScale Index Highlights - Q1 2013

After three straight quarters of rapidly rising wages across almost every industry, job category and company size, Q1 2013 brought the first wage decreases we've seen in quite some time. However, the decreases we did see were relatively minor, and wages are still up year-over-year across the board. It remains to be seen if this quarterly drop is a blip on the radar, or a long-term trend.

  1. A setback in the mining, oil and gas exploration industry had geographical consequences as well. The 0.4 percent decrease in wages in this industry likely drove the 0.2 percent wage drop in the Houston metro area, the largest drop this city has seen since mid-2010. Mining, oil and gas exploration is Houston's most significant industry.

  2. Small drops mean big changes. Normally, these small decreases wouldn't mean much, but considering that the mining, oil and gas exploration industry has reported significant wage increases for the past several quarters, this drop is pretty large.

  3. Tech hotspots cooled off. Cities with a strong tech presence that were previous wage winners were wage losers this quarter. Wages in Boston, Minneapolis, and Seattle fell this quarter (0.7 percent, 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent respectively). Wages in San Francisco softened with a quarterly growth of 0.7 percent compared to previous quarters of more than 1 percent.

  4. Biotech was the hardest hit of any tech job family. Here, wages fell by more than 1 percent this quarter, compared to IT, where wages simply slowed their growth to 0.2 percent, and architecture and engineering, where wages dropped by a mere 0.1 percent.

  5. Kitchens across the nation are on fire. For the first time since we've released The PayScale Index, the food services and accommodation industry came out on top with the highest quarterly growth. Wages in this industry grew by 1.4 percent, which was the largest quarterly growth of any measure of The PayScale Index.

  6. Wage decreases in the manufacturing industry and job category reflect other economic reports. Information released by the Institute for Supply Management, which tracks manufacturing activity, found that the manufacturing sector's expansion slowed in March. This matches our findings that wages decreased by 1.0 percent for the job category and 0.4 percent for the industry overall in Q1 2013.

  7. Little guys gave out the only wage increases. Wages in Q1 2013 grew by 0.3 percent for small companies, but fell by 0.2 percent for medium companies and fell by 0.5 percent for large companies. For the first time, small company wage growth since 2006 overtook large company wage growth.

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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 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.

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