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Southern California tops U.S. for pay raises — again

”Survey says” looks at various rankings and scorecards judging geographic locations while noting these grades are best seen as a mix of art and data.

Buzz: Southern California remains the top spot in the nation for pay raises.

Source: The Employment Cost Index, a Bureau of Labor Statistics metric, tracks changes in what workers cost bosses across the nation and specifically in 15 U.S. job hubs including the region of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties.

The trend

Southern California’s wages and salaries rose at a 6.5% annual rate in the 12 months ended in September, up from 3.1% a year earlier. That’s the highest level in this index’s 15-year history for a No. 1 in the 15 markets studied. Since 2019, SoCal has topped these rankings in eight quarters.

Details

Here’s what my trusty spreadsheet found inside the data …

Extremes: September’s most generous bosses, after Southern California’s, were in Miami and Washington, D.C., handing out 4.7% raises. The stingiest raises were found in Seattle at 2.5%, then Houston and Detroit at 2.7% and Atlanta at 3%.

Another top spot: Raises in the region were 3.1% in September 2020, so SoCal’s 3.4 percentage-point gain over 12 months also ranked No. 1 among the 15 markets.

Long run: Since the end of 2006, SoCal employment costs have grown an average 2.8% annually, the second-highest growth among the big job markets.

U.S. trends: Pay in September was rising at a 4.6% annual rate for all Americans vs. 3.5% in June and 2.7% a year earlier.

Pandemic boost: Since the coronavirus hit in early 2020, Southern California pay increases averaged 4.63% vs. 3.5% in 2017 through 2019. Nationally, wages were up at a 3.26% annual pace in the pandemic era compared with 2.87% in 2017-19.

Another view

When the benefit expenses are added in, SoCal’s total employee compensation costs were rising 5.5% in the year as of September — the highest among the 15 markets vs. 2.7% a year earlier. U.S. total compensation rose 1.6% in September vs. 0.6% a year earlier.

Bottom line

Why is your boss grumpy?

Blame rising signs of wage inflation. The cost of employees grew at an expanded rate in 12 of those 15 markets over the summer — and they’re up over 12 months, too.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at jlansner@scng.com


Source: Orange County Register

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