U.S. wage growth rebounded in March, glassdoor pay study shows

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NEW YORK (April 2): U.S. wage growth rebounded in March following a sluggish start to the year, with lower wage workers seeing the highest gains, according to the Glassdoor March Local Pay Report released Tuesday.

Median base pay for full-time workers rose 1.4% in March from the same period last year, compared with a 1.3% rise in February, the report showed. The median base pay for full-time workers in the U.S. increased to US$52,748 per year in March 2019.

"What we’ve been seeing in the Glassdoor data is that labor market got off to a rough start at the beginning of the year with the government shutdown, trade uncertainty, the cause and effect of the tax cuts wearing off," said Glassdoor economist Daniel Zhao.

The headwinds should subside and we expect wage growth to accelerate further as the labor market continues tightening, he said.

Glassdoor estimates usually run below the Bureau of Labor Statistics measure which reported wage growth of 3.4% in February. Separately, the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists shows average hourly earnings likely gained 3.4% in March from the prior year, matching February’s rise.

Lower wage jobs, including bank tellers, bartenders and cashiers, saw the highest wage growth after almost 21 states and D.C. increased the minimum wage in the past 15 months. Bartender median base pay rose 13.5% to US$35,433 and pharmacy technician pay jumped 7.2% to US$31,311 from a year ago.

Among the jobs with the lowest reported wage growth in March are Financial Advisers, Insurance Agents, Lawyers, Loan Officers, Web Designers and Data Scientists.

Geographically, workers in San Francisco reported the largest wage gains of the ten metro areas tracked by Glassdoor. The median base pay in San Francisco rose 2.5% to US$71,706 per year and led all ten cities in the Glassdoor report. Houston was the only metro among the ten followed where pay declined and it has been one of the weaker performing cities for quite some time, Zhao said.

U.S. annual inflation rose 1.5% in February.

"Part of the issue is that it’s a lower inflation market which is a good thing for workers when we’re talking in terms of real wages," Zhao said. 

"But some of this is also just because it’s very dependent on the energy industry. As energy prices move around there are some months, where Houston is much weaker than the rest of the country."

Glassdoor’s Local Pay Reports estimate year-over-year growth in median base salaries by job title for 84 jobs by collecting millions of self-reported salaries from U.S. workers and applying a machine-learning algorithm to calculate trends in pay.