The PayScale Index Reports Wages at a Three-Year High

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The Q1 2012 PayScale Index shows wages for Energy jobs on the rise, while Food sector wages decline; Index Highlights Economic Conditions Across Industries and Metropolitan Areas

PayScale, Inc. today announced The PayScale Index for Q1 2012, which tracks quarterly trends in compensation.

Quarter-over-quarter pay increases in jobs related to energy, particularly highly skilled ones, continue as the price of gasoline climbs higher and other mined commodities do well. Closely linked to the energy sector, workers in the mining, oil and gas exploration and utilities industries and in cities strong in these industries (like Houston) are seeing substantial pay increases.

While energy and mining salaries continue to increase, jobs related to food service continue to suffer. Annual pay changes for the food service industry and food service-specific jobs were negative this quarter: -0.2 percent for the industry and -0.6 percent for jobs. While these amounts may seem insignificant, when the national average is 1.4 percent, anything in the negative territory is severe.

“The clear salary winners for Q1 2012 are the workers in mining, oil & gas exploration and utilities,” says, Katie Bardaro, lead economist for PayScale. “However, previously hurting areas, such as transportation and construction, are showing promise in Q1 2012 as well. In both these industries, wages increased significantly over the previous year.”

Even though pay for engineering and IT jobs were flat in Q1 2012 and quarterly pay growth for science jobs was negative in Q1 2012, workers in these job categories have a solid salary foundation. Strong pay growth through 2011 still makes these job categories tops for annual pay growth. And, cities with a high presence of engineering, science and IT workers were also strong performers this quarter (e.g. Seattle and Philadelphia).

Adds Bardaro: “While economists still view the economic recovery as lukewarm, from a compensation perspective, Q1 2012 shows significant improvement as pay growth for this period reached a three-year high.”

About The PayScale Index
The PayScale Index follows changes in total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees in the United States. In addition to a US national index, it includes separate indices for the following:

  •     15 private industries as defined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS)
  •     20 largest metropolitan areas, as defined by the Office of Management and Budget (based on the July 1, 2009 population estimates by the United States Census Bureau).
  •     3 company sizes: small (under 100 employees), medium (between 100 and 1,500 employees) and large (greater than 1,500 employees).
  •     19 job categories, as defined, in part, by the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system.

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 30 million employee profiles, accounting for 250 compensable factors for more than 11,000 unique job titles, which show how the pay of actual workers varies with each of these factors.

About PayScale
Creator of the largest database of individual compensation profiles in the world, PayScale, Inc. provides an immediate and precise snapshot of current market salaries to employees and employers through its online tools and software. PayScale’s products are powered by innovative search and query algorithms that dynamically acquire, analyze and aggregate compensation information for millions of individuals in real time. Publisher of the quarterly PayScale Index(tm), PayScale's subscription software products for employers include PayScale MarketRate(tm) and PayScale Insight(tm). Among PayScale's 2,200 corporate customers are organizations small and large across industries including Zappos, Volunteers of America and Manpower. For more information, visit

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