U.S. 2019 HR & Job Insights: Salary Growth, Wage Cautions, Gen-Z

This year, we’re releasing a special report. As we enter into a new year, consumers and workers should be aware of the changes afoot in the job market and how that may impact their quality of life in major metropolitan areas.

We focused on Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles for our research and analysis of geographical and metropolitan areas. As well as polled more than 50 business leaders, Chief Executive Officers, recruiters, Human Resource managers, and business owners.

Survey’s were conducted understanding 2019’s Human Resource condition changes (both entering into a company and wage information once inside a company) then analyzed against information gathered from 2018, to give us projections into 2020.

Key Research Findings for 2019

  • Millennial and Gen-Z job seekers are still “on the move,” with roughly 58% of employees ages 21 - 28 change jobs within one to three years of employment.
  • On average, more than 40% of adults in large metropolitan areas live in “doubled-up” households. A strong indicator of lack of wage growth following true or “real” cost of living index (as indicated by Glassdoor).
  • Less than 11% of new hires are being made through online job applications or online job board listings. Down from 14.9% in 2017. 11% is the conservative figure as a result of the business polling.
  • Benefits programs are continuing to evolve. More than 42% of Millennial and Gen-Z job seekers idealizing job flexibility, vacation pay, remote working, and other job flexibility benefits are more important than traditional 401k and retirement plans.
  • On average less than 10% of hiring managers use resumes and cover letters as an indicator of a job applicant's strength. Instead, they are seeking referrals and public previous work history as part of their measurement for a high profile candidate.

Some research areas are expanded upon below, and additional metrics have been provided. Please note that these sections are not entirely correlated to the data above but are additional insights able to be gleaned from the findings.

Most Popular Jobs & Salary Growth In 2019 Compared To 2018

Here are the fifteen most common jobs and salaries from 2019 in the United States.

  • Retail salespersons: $23,800 (0% change in 2019)
  • Cashiers: $29,600 (+24% change in 2019)
  • Food Service Worker: $25,300 (+16% change in 2019)
  • Office Clerks: $29,500 (-9.38% change in 2019)
  • Registered Nurses: $73,200 (+2.78% change in 2019)
  • Customer Service Representatives: $33,500 (0% change in 2019)
  • Waiters and Waitresses: $25,200 (+16% change in 2019)
  • Laborers: $29,700 (+20% change in 2019)
  • Administrative Assistants: $38,900 (0% change in 2019)
  • Janitors: $28,800 (+7.15% change in 2019)
  • General and Operations Managers: $91,500 (+18.75% in 2019)
  • Stock Clerks: $27,000 (0% change in 2019)
  • Truck Drivers: $47,900 (+9.3% growth in 2019)
  • Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks: $35,500 (+12.5% growth in 2019)
  • First-line Supervisors: $41,800 (+7.32% growth in 2019)

This roughs out to a 5% median growth in wages across these fifteen jobs when calculating both the increase and decrease of wages growth.

Information provided by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Changes In Projected Cost Of Living

In this model, we’re going to look at housing, particularly rent, as our primary mode of analysis. While food, transportation, and other services make up a true cost of living index— we’re going to look at just rent.

Chicago: Average rent of $1,965.00 per month with a projected yearly annual growth of expense at 4%

New York: $4,245 per month with a projected yearly annual growth of expense at 2%

Los Angeles: $2,530 per month with a projected yearly annual growth of expense at 3%

This roughs out to a 2.5% growth in the expense of living this year, across three of the major cities and hubs for jobs in the U.S.

Information provided by Rentcafe.com and the Bureau of Labor Statics.

Living Behaviors In Metropolitan Areas

While census data can provide us a lot of insight, human behavior data can be additional helpful. One of the measurements we look at is the number of people living with a roommate or parent in these metropolitan areas.

In Los Angeles, 45.5% of adults live in a doubled-up household. In Chicago, 32.4% of adults live in a doubled-up household. And lastly, in New York, 40% of adults live in a doubled-up household.

What this can indicate is a potentially incorrect census on the cost of living. These numbers, on average, are all up about 8% since 2000.

National Wage Cautions Going Into 2020

While there are more than 12,000 job titles that need to be polled. This surface-level data can tell us that there are fairly slim growth margins as it pertains to average wage increases and cost of living increases.

The differential leaves only a 2.5% wage grown margin after living expenses. This growth margin doesn’t include taxation.

If we were to include even the lowest tax margin applied across all of the data polled, it would leave a net margin of an estimated 1.75%. Which is a very slim growth margin.

PayScale and their PayScale Wage Growth Index reported roughly similar numbers, at a 2.6% year over year growth projection based on Q3, 2019 numbers.

Strong Wages And Geographies

San Francisco and Seattle were amongst the two cities that showed the strongest wage growth, as reported by PayScale. But if we cross analyze this information against the average rent and cost of living in these geographies, we see that their growth is equal our outweighed by the expense of living.

Meaning, even though San Francisco and Seattle are heavily desired geographies due to job growth and wage increases, they are still subject to the 2.5% to 2.6% wage growth (not net of taxes) that the U.S. is exhibiting.

What To Trust In Terms of Wages

The PayScale “Real PayScale Index” is amongst the ones that should be trusted. The way PayScale calculates this is by the following:

The Real PayScale Index incorporates the CPI and tracks the purchasing power of full-time private industry workers in the U.S. When the Real PayScale Index falls, then inflation is rising faster than incomes. In other words, a fall in the Real PayScale Index implies your income can buy less stuff than previously – the prices of goods are rising faster than the price of your labor (your wage).

They are currently reporting a 0.7% year over year growth in real wages.

Real Wage Growth and Cost Of Living Outlook

While the national wage index is closely calling 2.5% to 2.6% at the end of Q4 2019, the real wage index is at 0.7% projected growth. If we were to calculate that against the rise in expenses, we would expect the cost of living to outpace the rise in real wages by about 1.8% per year, on the end of Q4 2019’s trajectory.

All Research Findings

All research findings were made by surveying business leaders, Chief Executive Officers, recruiters, Human Resource managers, and business owners. More than 50 executives were polled in this process.

All metric insights were gathered by analyzing Glassdoor, Salary.com, PayScale, and Bureau of Labor Statics.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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