Something had to give in Colorado, which has had the nation’s lowest unemployment rate for three months and counting. And what gave? Wages.
According to PayScale Inc., which helps clients calculate employee compensation, Denver saw wages grow 3.5 percent in the second quarter of 2017 from a year ago, ranking the metro area as the second highest wage growth out of 31 metro areas. Denver tied with San Diego and Austin for the second place.
Denver’s wage growth is up 0.2 percent since first quarter 2017, and up 12.8 percent since 2006, according to PayScale.
This also supports a recent annual compensation survey by the Mountain States Employers Council, which noted that Metro Denver employers plan to award an average pay raise of 3.1 percent next year, the biggest hike since 2008.
Nationwide, PayScale said that wages grew for the eighth consecutive quarter and were up 2.4 percent from the same period last year and up 0.5 percent from first quarter 2017.
Of the 31 metro areas, San Francisco had the nation’s top wage growth at 3.8 percent. But four Midwest cities saw wage declines, including Detroit, at -0.7 percent; Kansas City, MO, -0.3 percent; Minneapolis, -0.1 percent; and Chicago, -0.1 percent.
PayScale’s data also shows that foodservice and restaurant workers saw the biggest jump in wages, up 3.6 percent from last year, while accounting and finance jobs had the lowest, at 1.4 percent.
But PayScale pointed out that real wages were flat because wages have not kept up with the rate of inflation.
“While the positive wage growth appears to be sustaining, real wages are again 7.5 percent lower than they were in 2006, so the price of goods is growing faster than most employees’ wages,” said Katie Bardaro, Vice President of Data Analytics and Lead Economist at PayScale, in a statement.
For many entry-level workers in Colorado, the state’s minimum wage rose 11.9 percent overnight on Jan. 1, thanks to a bump in the minimum wage to $9.30 an hour, from $8.31. PayScale’s data includes hourly or salaried employees working at least 30 hours per week.
PayScale tracks compensation changes for full-time employees at private companies.