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Jon Talton

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

April 5, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Seattle leads nation in pay survey for first quarter

Mining, oil and gas exploration and utilities turned in the best nominal pay growth in the first quarter, according to the latest survey by Seattle-based PayScale. Sectors that had previously been lagging are finally turning up: Transportation and construction. Even though IT, engineering and science jobs were not top performers, they still remain strong overall. Quarter-over-quarter wages fell in the food-service sector.

“While economists still view the economic recovery as lukewarm, from a compensation perspective, (the first quarter) shows significant improvement as pay growth for this period reached a three-year high.” according to Katie Bardaro, lead economist for PayScale. The Seattle company’s index follows changes in total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees in the United States.

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue turned in the best performance, with 3.2 percent growth compared with the fourth quarter of 2011. It was followed by Houston, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Dallas. At the bottom of the 20 metros surveyed: Phoenix, down 0.5 percent, and Baltimore, off 0.7 percent.

Many of the results are not surprising: Higher oil prices are causing a boom in exploration and production. Construction, at least commercial and multi-family, is healing. Other insights: The bigger the company, the larger the pay increases. Also, according to the report, “Even though quarterly pay growth for engineering and IT jobs was essentially nil in Q1 2012 and quarterly pay growth for science jobs was negative in Q1 2012, workers in these job categories should not worry. Strong pay growth through 2011 cause these job categories to still be tops for annual pay growth and cities with a high presence of engineering, science and IT workers were also strong performers this quarter (e.g., Seattle and Philadelphia).”

And Don’t Miss: Whose World Bank? || Joseph Stiglitz/Project Syndicate

Today’s Econ Haiku:

What the laid-off shout

On their way to the bottom

They yell out, “Yahoo!”

Comments | More in Income/living standards

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