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Pay Inches Up Again in October

By Daniel B. Kline – Nov 1, 2019 at 9:03AM

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With over 6 million open jobs, employers may have to pay more to hire people -- but so far they're mostly not.

They may not all be good jobs (in fact, many of them are lower-level, lower-paying positions), but employers in the United States have an awful lot of open positions. Job openings grew by 5.1% in October to over 6 million, while annual wage growth rose by 2.1%, according to Glassdoor's latest Job Market Report.

"September's jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed conflicting signals with the unemployment rate dropping to a 50-year low but also a sudden deceleration in wage growth," wrote Glassdoor Chief Economist Daniel Zhao. "Our data suggests that the sudden drop in wage growth in BLS data is the outlier and we should expect a return to trend in the coming months. Overall, Glassdoor data is consistent with the broader view that the labor market remains a strong point in a slowing economy. "

A person hangs drywall.

Construction workers saw their pay increase by the most of any profession. Image source: Getty Images.

Which jobs are paying more?

Median pay for full-time American workers has inched up to $54,327. Only one job on the fastest-pay-growth list (web developer) exceeds that threshold. In general, the jobs with the fastest pay growth pay well below the median

Top 10 Job Titles with Fastest Pay Growth

Job Title Median Base Pay YoY %
Construction Laborer $42,942 6.1%
Warehouse Associate $43,222 5.4%
Security Officer $36,717 4.9%
Maintenance Technician $46,506 4.8%
Retail Key Holder $31,113 4.6%
Pharmacy Technician $32,485 4.5%
Machine Operator $41,045 4.3%
Customer Service Representative $38,578 3.7%
Web Developer $68,307 3.6%
Certified Nursing Assistant $29,166 3.4%

Data source: Glassdoor

Some employers are being forced to pay because they have job openings they need to fill. This is especially true in fields that can't be easily automated. Construction pay, for example, saw the biggest increases and had a huge increase in demand, according to Zhao.

"Construction job openings also increased 14.8% as the construction industry continues to grapple with a shortage of qualified and experienced workers," Zhao wrote. "Despite monthly swings in housing starts and permits data, Glassdoor data has consistently shown a tight labor market for the construction industry buoyed by lower interest rates."

Something has to give

Wage growth has so far only been modest during this prolonged period of huge demand for workers. That should, in theory, change at some point in order to make some of these lower-paying industries more attractive.

Many of the jobs on the list above can be at least partially automated. That could lessen demand by keeping the number of openings down, which may lead to an end to big jumps in wages for lower-paying fields.

In reality, however, automation will not come quickly, and demand should remain high in many fields for the extended short-term. This is muted good news for workers. It's obviously better to be paid more, but when a 6.1% increase stills leads to a salary well below the median, that's good -- but nothing to celebrate.

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