Friday, April 8, 2016

Second Quarter 2015: Growth in Jobs and Wages Continues

Wages and jobs continued to grow in the second quarter of 2015, compared with one year earlier. The number of jobs grew by more than 71,000, or 3.7 percent. Real median wages increased overall by $0.23 per hour, or 1.3 percent. All broad industries and all firm size classes added jobs. Construction was the only industry that did not see an increase in its median wage.

Leisure and hospitality, natural resources, and manufacturing all lost a significant number of jobs during the Great Recession. Since then, with the exception of manufacturing, the number of jobs lost by these industries has been recovered. They had the highest rates of over-the-year job growth through the most recent quarter. Leisure and hospitality jobs increased by 5.8 percent, natural resources jobs by 5.5 percent, and manufacturing jobs by 4.7 percent.

Construction is another industry that lost many jobs during the recession. Like manufacturing, it has yet to regain them all, needing nearly 26,000 additional jobs to return to its pre-recession second quarter employment. During the recent year-over-year period, construction added only 104 jobs, for a meager growth rate of 0.1 percent. Financial activities fared little better than construction, adding only 206, or 0.2 percent more jobs.

The median hourly wages of the top four job growth industries also kept ahead of inflation (which was near zero between 2014 and 2015). Of the four, the median wage for natural resources and mining grew the most (+3.7%) and the wage for leisure and hospitality nearly matched that (+3.3%). The increase in the minimum wage, from $9.10 to $9.25 per hour in 2015, may explain in large part the rise in the median wages of these two low-wage industries. Information and financial activities, both of which have a high median hourly wage, were the two top wage growth industries, with increases of 4.5 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. Construction was the only industry that saw its median wage drop – by $0.40 per hour, for a loss of 1.7 percent.

For more information on the number of jobs and wages by firm size class, read "Second Quarter 2015: Growth in Jobs and Wages Continues" by Regional Economist Erik Knoder and Special Projects Analyst Barbara E. Peniston.

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