Metro Atlanta wages rise 1.6 percent for August

Well, it looks like there’s a little something extra in your paycheck now.

And we do mean little.

Average wages in metro Atlanta during August edged up for the first time in six months, rising 1.6 percent from a year ago, compared to a national average of 2.0 percent, according to an analysis by Glassdoor, a California-based job data company.

Wage improvements in Atlanta have been halting and modest since the Great Recession ended in 2009. Despite years of steady job growth and a relatively low unemployment rate – 4.8 percent. Moreover, job growth has been faster than the national pace.

Yet until August, the year’s trendline for pay was weak.

Wage increases have slowed dramatically since January, when wages were 3.2 percent higher than a year before.

The data seems to contradict the complaint of many employers that workers – especially skilled workers – are hard to find. That notion has been critiqued by economists who argue that a market economy raises the price of anything – commodities or people – who are in high demand.

There are exceptions, however.

Among the strongest boosts: Atlanta-area truck drivers saw a 5.3 percent hike to an average of $49,994. That compares to overall median pay in metro Atlanta of $53,209 a year, a bit above the national median of $51,556.

There is also a somewhat surprising increase in pay for seasonal hires, Glassdoor says.

Wage growth is up for “positions that directly support retailers,” like cashiers, who have seen a 3.2 percent bump to average pay of $26,327 a year. A little farther up the chain, store managers have seen a 2.8 hike to an annual average of $50,890.

The idea that retail is collapsing is “a canard,” argued Mark Mathews, vice president of industry analysis at the National Retail Federation.

The number of retail jobs is up 4.2 percent in the past year, Mathews said. “Every month this year has seen a steady increase in sales over the same period last year. In fact, for each company closing a store, 2.7 companies are opening stores.”

The national August jobs report is to be released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fastest wage growth, August 2016 to August 2017

1. Boston, 2.4%

2. San Francisco, 2.4%

3. Washington DC, 2.3%

4. Seattle, 2.1%

5. Los Angeles, 2.1%

6. New York, 1.9%

7. Philadelphia, 1.8%

8. Chicago, 1.6%

9. Atlanta, 1.6%

10. Houston, 0.5%

Source: Glassdoor Local Pay Reports

Jobs with fastest pay growth

Pace of growth, median base pay

1. Truck Driver: 5.7%, $52,079

2. Barista: 5.7%, $24,194

3. Insurance Agent: 5.7%, $43,652

4. Recruiter: 5.2%, $50,483

5. Bank Teller: 4.9%, $28,636

6. Restaurant Cook: 4.7%, $28,628

7. Pharmacy Technician: 3.7%, $30,592

8. Cashier: 3.7%, $27,701

9. Producer: 3.5%, $52,935

10. Server: 3.3%, $33,654

Source: Glassdoor Local Pay Reports


AJC Business reporter Michael E. Kanell keeps you updated on the latest news about jobs, housing and consumer issues in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on, including these stories:

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