Bartenders saw biggest pay hike over the last year

By Kate Gibson

/ MoneyWatch

Tending bar might mean having to listen to people looking for a sympathetic ear, but at least the pay is rising: Annual wages for full-time barkeeps jumped nearly 10 percent over the last year to just over $35,000 — that amounts to the biggest annual bump for any job around the country, according to a new analysis.

More broadly, modest-paying professions saw the fastest wage growth over the last 12 months, career-services firm Glassdoor found. Pharmacy technicians — who on average earn $31,609 a year — saw their pay climb 7.4 percent over the last 12 months, while average gains for truck drivers, cashiers, materials handlers and bank tellers approached 5 percent.

Remember that big shortage of technology workers? Among high-tech workers, only web developers ranked among the top 10 jobs for wage growth, at 3.5 percent, over the last year, concluded Glassdoor, which based its findings on millions of open jobs online and salaries shared anonymously.

What's driving up pay

What's pushing up pay for lower-paid work? Start with a national unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, the lowest in nearly half a century — a tighter labor market means companies need to offer more competitive wages to attract workers. For instance, Walmart has promised to pay truck drivers around $90,000 a year as it vies for drivers, who are in short supply. To up its recruitment, McDonald's is partnering with AARP as it looks to hire senior citizens to help fill 250,000 openings this summer.

And while union membership in the U.S. has continued to decline in the private sector, that hasn't stopped teachers, fast-food workers, rideshare drivers and others from loudly agitating for better pay. Spurred in part by pressure from labor activists such as the "Fight for $15" campaign, big companies such as Amazon, Bank of America and Walmart have boosted pay, while more states and cities around the country have lifted their minimum wage.

While low-wage workers are earning more, some white-collar professions are making less. Financial advisers earn a median $53,196, down 3 percent, and lawyers take in an average $97,316, off 2.8 percent from last year.

What CEOs earn at America's biggest companies

Overall, wages for all U.S. workers were up a meager 1.4 percent in April from a year ago, Glassdoor found — median annual pay for full-time workers: $52,807.

Job openings in the U.S. increased to nearly 5.6 million in April 2019, up 1 percent from March but down 0.4 percent from a year earlier, according to Glassdoor. "It's a stark contrast to previous years, which saw strong growth in job openings in the first quarter as companies returned from the holidays and ramped up hiring," Daniel Zhao, Glassdoor's senior economist, noted in a blog.

Help wanted

Hiring is especially robust in consumer electronics and insurance, with job openings up 60 percent and nearly 30 percent, respectively, from a year ago.

Conversely, the slowest growth came in internet and tech, with job openings down more than 28 percent in April from the year earlier. Openings were down roughly 22 percent in telecommunications and in supermarkets, while hiring was also lower at restaurants and bars as well as the travel and tourism industry.

The slumping demand for tech workers stems in part by the possibility of tighter regulation of companies like Facebook and Google, making large employers "particularly hesitant to ramp up," Zhao wrote.

First published on April 30, 2019 / 3:49 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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