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The PayScale Index: Watching Salaries Go Up and Down


Did you know that PayScale has collected over 23 million salary surveys from people just like you? That means that we have a lot of salary data – gobs and gobs. And, while we like to use it to help you make decisions about your future career, we’ve decided to also use it to take a look back at salary trends from the past. We're happy to introduce you to The PayScale Index.

What is The PayScale Index? The PayScale Index follows the change in wages of employed US workers, revealing trends in compensation over time. It specifically measures the quarterly change in the total cash compensation of full-time private industry employees nationally, with additional detail on the 20 largest metropolitan areas, 15 industries, and three company sizes.

When asked what overall salary trends The PayScale Index uncovered in recent years, Al Lee, director of quantitative research at PayScale and leader of the study, said, “People on social security haven’t gotten a raise in the last two years because there has been no cost of living increase. But, they have done better than the rest of America.”

Lee says that wages for most private industry workers have dropped a least a percentage point since 2008. In fact, PayScale found that since 2006, wages have increased only four percent while the Consumer Price Index has increased 7.5 percent. This means less spending power for most Americans.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

What other interesting facts did The PayScale Index bring to light?

• The typical worker in Detroit, doing the same job as in 2006, earns nearly 6.8 percent less in buying power (real dollars) today than in 2006.
• Over the last 12 months through Q3 2010, only five of 20 metros covered in The PayScale Index have had wage increases greater than 0.1 percent. Those metros areas are Baltimore (1.6 percent) and St. Louis (0.6 percent), Washington, DC (0.5 percent), New York (0.4 percent), and Phoenix (0.4 percent).
• The worst period for full-time private sector employee wages since 2006 were the six months between Q4 2008 and Q2 2009.
• In the last 12 months since Q3 2010, only six of 15 industries covered in The PayScale Index have had wage increases greater than 0.1 percent. They are utilities (0.8 percent), mining and oil and gas extraction (0.6 percent), finance (0.5 percent), healthcare (0.2 percent), transportation (0.2 percent) and retail (0.2 percent).

In upcoming posts, we’ll highlight the activity in certain industries, cities and company sizes to help you better understand what The PayScale Index can teach you about your salaries past and future.


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