PayScale Q1 Index Shows Real Wages Fell for Most Employees Year-Over-Year

Seattle, WA – April 10, 2019– Today, PayScale Inc, the leader in precise, on-demand cloud compensation data and software for businesses and individuals, released the Q1 2019 PayScale Index, which tracks quarterly and annual trends in compensation.

The most recent Index revealed that workers experienced negative ‘real wage’ growth of 0.8 percent – a measure of wage growth in relation to inflation – over the past year. Wages grew only a very tepid 0.4 percent in the first quarter of the year. The Index shows meaningful wage growth is only experienced in a small set of jobs and cities which explains why U.S. wage growth overall remains relatively stagnant.

“Even though March, employment numbers outpaced expectations. PayScale’s Q1 Index indicates that it continues to be a turbulent time for the average U.S. employee, with uncertain wage growth across many jobs and industries and a continued decline in real wages for most workers,” said Katie Bardaro, Chief Economist at PayScale. “However, we do observe some bright spots in an otherwise disheartening report. Our most recent Index shows technology jobs – along with tech hub cities such as Seattle, San Francisco and San Jose – are continuing to thrive—as are accounting and finance, and marketing and advertising jobs.”

Here are the key findings from the Q1 2019 PayScale Index:

Data Insights (US):

National wage growth remains sluggish overall: wages at just 0.4 percent for the quarter and 0.6 percent over the past year.

Wage growth is unequal across cities:

  • Tech hubs showed the most positive wage growth, as information technology jobs increased 2.3 percent over the past year..
  • Seattle posted the largest year over year annual wage growth of 2.5 percent.
  • Likewise, wages were up 2.4 percent in San Francisco and 2.2 percent in San Jose from a year ago.
  • Other cities do less well.
  • Wages fell over the last year in Charlotte, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Houston with wage declines of 0.7 percent, 0.4 percent, and0.3 percent, respectively.

Accounting & finance and marketing & advertising jobs surge while transportation and manufacturing & production jobs falter.

  • Accounting & finance and marketing & advertising jobs experienced annual wage growth of over 2.5 percent while. accounting & finance jobs posted 2.7 percent wage growth over the past year. Marketing & advertising jobs had 2.6 percent annual wage growth.
  • Both transportation and manufacturing & production jobs declined 4.8 percent annually. Transportation jobs, however, had a stronger Q1, posting growth 0.7 percent, versus just 0.1 percent for manufacturing & production jobs.

The agencies & consultancies and finance & insurance industries showed solid growth. The accommodation & food services industry had notably negative growth.

  • The agencies & consultancies industry had the fastest annual wage growth, as wages grew 1.0 percent in the quarter, bringing the annual growth for this industry to 2.1 percent.
  • The finance & insurance industry also had positive annual wage growth of 1.9 percent.

The accommodation and food services industry saw wages decline by 1.1 percent over the past year.

Data Insights (Canada):

  • Canada posted positive wage growth nationally in Q1 as wages grew 1.2 percent over the past year.
  • Vancouver had the strongest nominal wage growth, with Toronto and Calgary were not far behind. Wages grew 2.0 percent annually in Vancouver, compared to 1.8 percent in both Toronto and Calgary.
  • The oil city of Edmonton had the slowest growth of the Canadian cities with wage growth of only 0.5 percent over the past year.

The PayScale Index is a different economic measure than the Employment Cost Index (ECI) reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While the ECI tracks employment costs within organizations, the PayScale Index tracks workers’ wages across various organizations. This means the PayScale Index will capture changes in employees’ wages when they are move to a different company, while the ECI does not. There is value in using both the ECI and the PayScale Index to determine relative wage growth in the U.S. economy.

To view the entire interactive Q1 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:

About PayScale

PayScale offers modern compensation software and the most precise, real-time, data-driven insights for employees and employers alike. More than 8,000 customers, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, use PayScale to power pay decisions for more than 23 million employees. These companies include Encana, Patagonia, The New York Times, Sunsweet, T-Mobile, United Health Group, Wendy’s and Perry Ellis. For more information, please visit: or follow PayScale on Twitter:


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