PayScale Releases First Quarter 2011 Compensation and Salary Index

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The PayScale Index reports slight increase in wages over the previous year; Los Angeles and Inland Empire show continued weakness; New York City leads nation with most improving wages.

PayScale, Inc. today announced The PayScale Index for Q1 2011, which tracks quarterly trends in compensation. Specifically, The PayScale Index follows changes in total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees in the United States.

From 2006 to 2008, wages grew more than five percent. As the recession worsened at the end of 2008, wages dropped dramatically, settling on a new, lower, plateau in Q2 2009. Through Q1 2011, national average wages remained relatively flat.

Wage levels in Q1 2011 were not much higher than they were in Q1 2008, three years earlier. However, in the last three years, the cost of goods has increased, causing an overall reduction in consumer buying power. The only bright point is that wages are up, slightly (0.1-0.3 percent), over the previous year for the fourth quarter in a row.

"There are signs of a turnaround in wages in specific metros (NYC, Houston) and industries (Business Support Services, Healthcare, Oil Exploration and Mining). Nationally, wages are up year-over-year for the fourth quarter in a row; however, the increase is only 0.3 percent, almost 10x smaller than was typical before the recession," said Al Lee, Director of Quantitative Analysis at PayScale.

Index highlights include:

  •     New York City: Wages in NYC in 2010 and through Q1 2011 show a consistent, though slow, upward trend. While not spectacular at about one percent, NYC's Q1 2011 year-over-year increase was the best of the metros tracked by The PayScale Index.
  •     Los Angeles: After remaining stagnant for the end of 2009 and most of 2010, LA wages in Q1 2011 continued a downward trend for a third quarter. With neighboring Riverside, LA is one of a handful of metros with wages in Q1 2011 lower than a year earlier.
  •     Detroit: The good news for Detroit is that Q1 2011 did not see a drop in wages - they continue to move in a narrow range where they have been for over a year and a half. The bad news is that, nearly 5 years later, wages are up only a little more than 1 percent compared to 2006.
  •     St. Louis: Since early 2010, workers in St. Louis have enjoyed a healthy rebound in earnings. While Q1 2011 is down a little from the previous quarter, the St. Louis year-over-year increase was nearly 1 percent, putting it near the top of the list for pay growth in the last year by metro.
  •     Baltimore: Q1 2011 saw another strong uptick in wages, with Baltimore at its highest all-time point. Whether this is the start of a new upward trend, or is just a fluctuation, remains to be seen.

About The PayScale Index
The PayScale Index utilizes a unique approach to trend measurement. Unlike indices such as the Consumer Price Index, which measures the prices of certain goods and services (periodically updated to reflect changes in buying habits of Americans), The PayScale Index uses data on all private-sector, full-time employees working in a given time period.

PayScale has performed a detailed analysis of how various compensable factors, like work experience, education, employment setting and job responsibilities affect pay. This analysis is based on PayScale's extensive data of more than 23 million employee profiles, accounting for 250 compensable factors for 7,000 unique job titles, which show how the pay of actual workers varies with each of these factors.

The PayScale Index also examines quarterly changes in the pay of employed workers across 15 private industry categories separately, 20 metropolitan areas, and across company sizes of less than 100 employees, 100-1,500 employees, and more than 1,500 employees. Industries include: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; Business Operation Support Services; Construction; Finance & Insurance; Food Services & Accommodation; Healthcare & Social Assistance; Information, Media & Telecommunications; Manufacturing; Mining; Professional, Scientific & Tech Services; Real Estate; Retail; Transportation & Warehousing/Storage; Utilities; and Wholesale Trade.

About PayScale ( is the leading online provider of employee compensation data. With the world's largest database of individual compensation profiles, PayScale provides an immediate and precise snapshot of current market salaries to employees and employers. PayScale's patent-pending, real-time profiling technology collects and indexes employee pay attributes worldwide and makes this compensation data available through its online salary tools and salary benchmarking reports. PayScale was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Seattle. For more information, visit:

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Steven Gottlieb
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