Sudarshan Sampath, director of research at PayScale, tells Yahoo Finance that while nominal wages (those not adjusted for inflation) have been growing at a reasonably steady pace, real wages have not kept up.
“Gains and productivity are not being shown in real wages, and that’s where you find some of the economic constraints Americans have,” he said.
Sampath cites the housing market as an example. “You hear about the inability of first-time buyers to buy a home, and that’s because they’re not able to save enough. That’s really a function of that real versus nominal wages.”
Payscale’s Q3 index showed a nominal wage increase of 0.5% quarter over quarter, or 2.6% year over year. The most substantial areas of wage growth were recorded in areas with a strong tech industry.
It should then come as no surprise then that the San Francisco metro area was once again No. 1 for annual wage growth. The Golden City had a year-over-year increase of 4.3%. Seattle and Austin metro areas were not far behind, each with an annual growth of 4%.
One standout metro area, according to Payscale, was Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Wage growth in that area came in at 3.7%, the fourth-highest in the nation. What made that growth even more surprising is that Pittsburgh has had 3 quarters of lackluster growth, according to Payscale data.
Wage growth in the oil-rich Houston Metro area is currently the slowest in the nation. Sampath tells Yahoo Finance that this is most likely due to fluctuations in the energy industry, as well as the fact that it is an area that is prone to natural disasters.
On the occupation side of the index jobs report, it’s a two-horse race between transportation and information technology. Transportation saw the highest annual wage growth, at 4.9%, while IT came in second at 3.2%. Sampath explained these industries often complement one another.
“We are seeing effects of lagging impact of consumer spending on the economy, [and] that is creating sort of a spiky wage world,” he said. Some occupations are flourishing, and some occupations are not. “A software engineer is paid a ton of money, and they have a demand for Amazon Prime next day delivery. That demand has an impact on the transportation sector. You’re gonna have to pay someone to get it to the warehouse or get it to the store and get it to deliver to in software engineer.”
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.