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Workers Remain in High Demand; Wages Inch Up

Daniel B. Kline, The Motley Fool

Job openings rose by 4.6% in July while median base pay increased by 1.9% compared to the same period in 2018, according to Glassdoor's monthly market report. That marks a bounce back in openings from earlier in the year. In March, openings had slowed to only 0.1%. Overall job postings on Glassdoor sit at 5.85 million, a number near historic highs.

"The job market sends mixed signals as it cools amid the longest economic expansion on record in the United States," said Glassdoor Senior Economist Daniel Zhao in a press release. "Pay gains remain sluggish, but wages still rose 1.9% annually in July. Overall, the good times are not over just yet for workers."

A doctor, a nurse, and a man in a suit stand in a hallway.

Medical careers saw some major increases in wages. Image source: Getty Images.

Pay rising slowly

Having a lot of unfilled jobs can lead to companies paying more to lure in workers. That's happening but not to any great extent. Median pay rose 1.9% in July, which is similar to what has happened in each of the past three months. That's not a terrible number, but it's below the 2.6% average the U.S. saw in the second half of 2018.

"Stubbornly low pay growth gives breathing room for the Federal Reserve to cut rates without worrying about inflation," wrote Zhao in the report. "But it is concerning that the tight labor market and high demand for talent are still not translating into faster pay growth for American workers."

Some jobs, of course, have seen wages rise faster than others. Manufacturing jobs have seen rising wages due to a shortage of experienced workers, even as trade troubles have put tension on that sector. In addition, many lower-wage jobs have seen increases, helped by 21 states and Washington D.C. raising their minimum wage in the past year.

Top 10 Job Titles with Fastest Pay Growth

Job Title

Median Base Pay

YoY %

Pharmacy Technician

$31,724

6.4%

Machine Operator

$40,704

5.4%

Warehouse Associate

$44,112

4.4%

Security Officer

$36,124

4.1%

Field Engineer

$72,974

4.1%

Sales Representative

$49,524

3.7%

Customer Service Representative

$38,243

3.7%

Truck Driver

$55,195

3.6%

Production Manager

$69,578

3.5%

Physical Therapist

$76,375

3.5%

Data source: Glassdoor

What does this mean for you?

As a worker, you may think it makes sense to go after a job in a field where wages are rising quickly. In reality, many high-paying jobs are actually in fields where growth has been slow.

Top 10 Job Titles with Slowest Pay Growth

Job Title

Median Base Pay

YoY %

Business Development Manager

$68,987

-3.3%

Maintenance Worker

$41,228

-3.1%

Attorney

$97,422

-1.7%

Human Resources Manager

$69,636

-1%

Pharmacist

$126,442

-0.7%

Financial Advisor

$54,517

0%

Solutions Architect

$106,913

0.2%

Customer Service Manager

$54,678

0.3%

Professor

$87,341

0.3%

Programmer Analyst

$70,211

0.5%

Image source: Glassdoor

Aside from maintenance worker, every position on the list above pays above July's median annual pay rate of $53,062. As a worker picking a profession it's important to look at the average salary for that position along with expected demand.

It's better to make $87,341 as a professor than making less than half of that as a pharmacy technician even if that position continues to see wage increases. Of course, wages aren't everything. It's also important when picking a career (or changing professions) to look at where the jobs are. A truck driver in Texas may have a higher standard of living than a tech worker living in San Francisco.

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