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Wages Up Across the Board in Q4 2012

The PayScale Index Highlights - Q4 2012

Even with the uncertainty brought about by the federal government's budgetary issues, Q4 2012 proved to be yet another strong quarter for wage growth in the U.S. Wages for most cities, industries, job categories and company sizes tracked by The PayScale Index are the highest they've been since 2006 and every measure of The PayScale Index experienced an annual growth in wages.

1. Publishing Fights Back. Media & Publishing Jobs overthrew IT jobs as the job category with the largest annual growth in wages in Q4 2012. After a bumpy 2008-2011 that resulted in little to no growth, this job category, which contains public relations jobs, entertainers and performers, and media and communication workers, has been on fire in 2012.

2. People Want Entertainment.
In addition to wage growth for entertainment jobs, there was also tremendous wage growth for the arts and entertainment industry. Q4 2012 saw a 2.4 percent quarterly increase in wages for this industry, which is the highest it has ever been.

3. Energy Raises on the Rise in 2012.
There is no stopping the pay increases for jobs related to energy or technology, particularly highly skilled ones, as they experienced annual wage growth north of 3 percent and, in some cases, north of 5 percent. Workers in the mining, oil and gas exploration and utilities industries, and in cities strong in these industries (like Houston), are seeing substantial pay increases.

4. Tech Cities are Thriving.
Seattle, San Francisco and Boston, three metros known for having a strong tech presence, all experienced annual wage growth of more than 3.9 percent. All three metros had their strongest annual wage growth since being measured by The PayScale Index.

5. Construction Wins.
New home construction is the highest it has been in more than four years, according to the Commerce Department and wage growth was the best it's been in more than three years. Annual wage growth for construction jobs was tied for third across all job categories for Q4 at 4.2 percent. From Q1 2011 until Q4 2012, wages grew by more than 4 percent. This is good news for Riverside, Calif., where home construction is a prominent industry, making the city a wage winner this quarter.

6. People Like to Eat.
Annual wage growth for food service jobs was 3.3 percent in Q4 – the highest it has ever been since being tracked by The PayScale Index. Similarly, annual wage growth for the food services and accommodation industry hit an all-time high at 3 percent.

7. Slow Growers.
Social service jobs and the business operation support services industry each saw little growth, coming in at 0.1 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively. The metro with the least annual wage growth was Washington D.C. at 1.6 percent, followed by St. Louis and Detroit, both at 1.9 percent.

8. Rooting for the Little Guy: Quarterly wage growth for small companies outpaced medium and large companies. Wages in Q4 2012 grew by 2.2 percent for small companies. This strong quarterly growth pushed small companies to almost 5 percent annual wage growth, compared to only 2.7 percent for medium companies and 3.3 percent for large companies.

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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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