Where I mix career information and career decision making in a test tube and see what happens

Thursday, May 1, 2014

New Wage Figures Reveal Trends of the Past Two Years


The BLS has just released the May 2013 estimates for wages in 800+ occupations. I thought it would be interesting to see which occupations showed the greatest and smallest increases in pay compared to previous years.

I decided that the best way to smooth out errors and focus on large trends would be to look at groups of occupations rather than detailed occupations and to look at the difference over two years rather than one year.

Here’s what I found:


Occupational Group
May 2011
May  2013
Change
Healthcare Support Occupations
$25,140
$26,080
3.7%
Computer and Mathematical Occupations
$75,080
$77,860
3.7%
Architecture and Engineering Occupations
$72,070
$74,530
3.4%
Business and Financial Operations Occupations
$61,700
$63,800
3.4%
Management Occupations
$92,880
$95,600
2.9%
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations
$59,570
$61,120
2.6%
Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations
$59,330
$60,860
2.6%
Office and Administrative Support Occupations
$31,250
$32,010
2.4%
Community and Social Service Occupations
$39,880
$40,810
2.3%
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations
$43,640
$44,610
2.2%
Construction and Extraction Occupations
$39,820
$40,670
2.1%
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations
$40,600
$41,440
2.1%
Production Occupations
$30,670
$31,250
1.9%
All Occupations
$34,460
$35,080
1.8%
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations
$22,620
$22,970
1.5%
Personal Care and Service Occupations
$20,730
$21,010
1.4%
Sales and Related Occupations
$24,840
$25,160
1.3%
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations
$28,760
$29,100
1.2%
Legal Occupations
$75,470
$76,100
0.8%
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations
$18,900
$19,020
0.6%
Education, Training, and Library Occupations
$46,060
$46,140
0.2%
Protective Service Occupations
$36,740
$36,770
0.1%
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations
$19,460
$19,380
-0.4%
Teachers, Postsecondary
$64,592
$62,920
-2.6%


Perhaps the most powerful takeaway from this table is that wages are growing fastest among the STEM occupations—science, technology, engineering, and math.

Some occupations that will account for numerous job openings—notably the Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations; the Personal Care and Service Occupations; and the Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations—have experience slower-than-average wage growth. Yesterday’s Senate defeat of the bill to raise the minimum wage—a disgraceful defiance of overwhelming popular support—only reinforces this trend.

It’s interesting to note that three groups of blue-collar occupations have experienced slightly faster-than-average wage growth: Construction and Extraction Occupations; Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations; and Production Occupations. These occupations require higher levels of skill than the wage-stagnant occupations in the previous paragraph. Production Occupations, in particular, have seen increased skill requirements as the low-skill workers in this field have been replaced by either robots or offshore workers.

Yes, but what about Postsecondary Teachers? Surely they require high levels of skill, not to mention high-level educational credentials, yet their wages actually lost ground over this two-year period. This downturn in annual wages reflects the fact that colleges and universities are increasingly using adjunct teachers. These temporary or part-time workers are paid on a different scale from tenured or permanent faculty.

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