One of the biggest issues of the "recovery" of the past few years is the type of work that has been generated. The Great Recession wiped out a lot of what are considered "middle wage" jobs, and replaced them with low wage jobs; over 60% of the job growth during the recovery has been in this tier. This has helped to stagnate wages at the aggregate level. Certainly there are a myriad of other factors such as the simple laws of economic supply and demand (limited jobs, tons of unemployed seeking said jobs = no upward pressure on wages) and the now multi decade effects of globalization. But there is some bright light at the end of the tunnel as the average U.S. worker wage is now showing the best growth in 5 years. It appears that oil workers are leading the pack here as the boon in North Dakota is creating a nice mini boom. [Oct 3, 2011: Double Your Salary in the Middle of Nowhere, North Dakota] [Dec 9, 2010: Need a Job? Head to Williston, North Dakota] [Aug 2, 2009: Slice of Central US Safe from Recession Shrinking] [Jun 8, 2008: A Real Green Shoot - the Dakotas] While the national gains are relatively modest, 3% is certainly better than a sharp stick to an eye.
- Big pay hikes in the energy industry have helped fuel the biggest jump in U.S. wages in more than five years, according to an industry report released Wednesday. PayScale, which analyzes data from more than 10 million U.S. workers, reported that workers in the mining, oil and gas exploration industry have seen their pay increase by an average of 4.9% over the past 12 months and that has helped to push the average U.S. worker's paycheck 3% higher over the same period.
- After languishing at or below 1% for 12 straight quarters beginning in the spring of 2009, wages have recorded strong gains the past six months.
- After a brief slowdown in oil and gas exploration early in the recession, there has been a boom in the field. Drilling companies are flocking to places like North Dakota and the Northeast and prices at the pump have skyrocketed, nearly tripling since 2008.
- Oil and gas workers aren't the only ones coming home with fatter paychecks. In fact, all of the job categories that PayScale tracks saw pay increases during the past 12 months. Information technology workers averaged a 4.5% increase in pay over the past 12 months. In places like Seattle, "there has been an almost crazy demand for IT workers," said Bardaro.
- Pay raises varied a lot with location. Of the 20 largest U.S. metro areas, Houston recorded the biggest annual salary increase, 3.9%, followed by Dallas, San Francisco and Boston. All of these cities have heavy concentrations of either oil industry employers or high tech companies. Phoenix, St. Louis and Baltimore workers fared the worst, with gains of 1.6%.
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