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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

January 12, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Pay grew modestly in Q4

If you were fortunate enough to have a job, 2011 was a fairly good year for many employees, according to Seattle-based PayScale, which tracks quarterly nominal changes in total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees. “This is the best performance of wages across the various measures since The Great Recession,” the company reports. For metro Seattle, wages grew by 1.6 percent, the fifth-best among 20 metros. Houston led with a 2.2 percent increase.

Not surprisingly given the rush to lock up new energy supplies, the mining, oil and gas exploration sector produced the best raises, at 2.6 percent, followed by utilities at 2 percent. Food services and accommodation lost 0.1 percent. (Pay increases have slowed over the last quarter for workers in the mining, oil and gas exploration industry, but the levels still remain over 2 percent higher than the previous year.)

The picture was different among job categories: transportation, science and biotech positions pulled down the best wage increases, 2.4 percent compared with the same period in 2010. High-skills in demand means high pay.

Construction workers, which have suffered “free fall” wages since the fourth quarter of 2008 experienced their biggest growth — 1 percent from the third to fourth quarter — since the Great Recession. PayScale notes, “Lower wage/lower skill jobs continue to be under substantial pressure in multiple industries.” For example, food service and restaurant workers are earning below their 2006 levels.

Inflation ran about 1.6 percent in 2010, and although we don’t have 2011 totals yet it seemed to pick up last year. So except for the best jobs and sectors, employees are still barely keeping up with living costs.

And Don’t Miss: Why zombie banks hate to write off bad loans || Bloomberg

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Nigerian strike

Iran and the Hormuz strait

You’ll pay at the pump

Comments | More in Income/living standards, Working America

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