PayScale Q3 Index Shows Mild Wage Growth Across U.S. Despite Record Low Unemployment

Technology cities, transportation jobs and the arts and entertainment industry are select bright spots in the economy

Seattle, Washington, UNITED STATES

SEATTLE, Oct. 22, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, PayScale Inc, the leader in precise, on-demand cloud compensation data and software for businesses and individuals, released the Q3 2019 PayScale Index, which tracks quarterly and annual trends in compensation and provides a U.S. wage forecast for the coming quarter. The most recent Q3 Index revealed nominal wages increased by 0.5 percent quarter over quarter or 2.6 percent year over year and cities with a concentration of technology jobs showed the strongest wage growth.

“Unemployment numbers hit a record low of 3.5 percent in September. This was not surprising with job growth averaging 161,000 new jobs per month for the first nine months of the year,” said Sudarshan Sampath, Director of Research at PayScale. “However, we are now seeing this remarkable job growth begin to slow, as the economy loses some of its spark. We expect wage growth to remain at its steady rate in the coming months as a result.”

These are the key findings from PayScale’s Q3 2019 Index:

Tech cities showed the strongest wage growth:

  • The tech center of San Francisco was again the metro area in the U.S. that experienced the largest increase with an annual wage growth of 4.3 percent. In addition, the tech cities of Seattle and Austin also saw wages increase 4 percent year over year.
  • Annual wages in Pittsburgh jumped up 3.7 percent – ranking the city’s wage growth the fourth fastest in the country – after three quarters of lackluster growth.
  • Wage growth in the oil city of Houston was the slowest in the nation, falling 0.6 percent quarter over quarter and posting only 0.5 percent annual wage growth. This is likely a reflection of recent fluctuations in energy markets.

Transportation jobs posted strong wage growth:

  • Occupations in Transportation grew an impressive 4.9 percent annually, likely due to the lagging impact of consumer spending in the U.S.
  • Information Technology jobs continued to post strong growth numbers with wages up 3.2 percent year over year.
  • For another quarter, Marketing & Advertising jobs showed notable annual wage growth of 2.9 percent.
  • Art & Design and Social Service jobs were at the bottom of the occupations list with a decline in annual wage growth of 0.3 percent and tepid growth of just 1.3 percent, respectively.

Wages in the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation industry grew considerably:

  • Wage growth in the Arts, Entertainment and Recreation industry topped the list of industries at 3.4 percent year over year. Like wage growth in transportation jobs, this growth may be due to an increase in discretionary spending.
  • Both Manufacturing and the Energy and Utilities industries showed lackluster annual wage growth of 2.3 percent.

National wages in Canada continued to grow:

  • Nationally, wages in Canada grew by 2.6 percent year over year, the same as nominal wage growth experienced in the U.S.
  • Ottawa topped the Canadian list of metros with annual wage growth increasing 3.5 percent while the energy city of Calgary saw wages fall 0.2 percent year over 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 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 Q3 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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