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This story originally appeared on HireAHelper.

Slow wage growth and increasing wage inequality have shaped the US labor market for the past few decades. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit low-wage workers disproportionately and only helped exacerbate these problems. Now, a year after the pandemic, millions of workers remain unemployed and many companies are still facing restrictions.

Over the past five years, the average annual wage, adjusted for inflation, rose by 4.8%. However, much of the rise in average wages is due to rising wages among the highest earners. According to an analysis of data from the latest population survey by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the real median hourly wage increased by 15% from 1979 to 2019. In comparison, wages for workers in the 95th percentile rose by 63%, while workers in the 10th percentile saw wages only grow by around 3%.

In addition to wage inequality that has become more pronounced over the years, racial and ethnic wage gaps persist. The EPI analysis of the latest 2019 Population Survey shows that white and Hispanic workers are overtaking black workers at all levels of education. Whites also study Hispanics at all levels of education except those with less than a high school degree. Racial wage differentials are most significant among college graduates, where white workers earn 29% more than black workers and 18% more than Hispanic workers.

While real wages have increased nationally by almost 5% in the past five years, the average worker in some parts of the country has made little or no profit. At the regional level, the south and south-east saw lower average wage growth, while certain northern states saw significant increases. Hawaii and Washington had the fastest growing wages in the country, with average annual wages rising 9.9% and 9.2% respectively. Conversely, Alaska, Delaware, New Mexico, and Mississippi saw no statistically significant changes in real wages.

To identify the metros with the fastest growing wages, HireAHelper researchers analyzed data from the 2019 and 2014 U.S. Employment Statistics (OES) data, which reflects the most recent available five-year period. The researchers rated the metropolitan areas based on the inflation-adjusted five-year change in the average wages of all workers. The researchers also calculated the occupation with the largest inflation-adjusted wage increase from 2014 to 2019 at each location.

Read on to see the big metros with the fastest growing wages.

15. Rochester, NY

Rochester New YorkTarnPisessith / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 5.4%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 52,170
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 49,476
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 45,770
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Waiters and waitresses (54.5%)

14. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

Lake Calhoun, MinneapolisRoger Siljander / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 5.4%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 59,310
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 56,297
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 52,080
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Waiters and waitresses (44.4%)

13. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ

John Wollwerth / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 5.6%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 52,330
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 49,551
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 45,840
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Bartender (69.3%)

12. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL

Tampa, Floridakevin-j-king / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 5.7%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 49,590
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 46,935
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 43,420
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Real estate seller (58.9%)

11. Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH

Bostonmandritoiu / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 5.8%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 69,240
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 65,442
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 60,540
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Telemarketer (37.5%)

10. Austin-Round Rock, TX

Austin, Texas waterscapeSilvio Ligutti / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 6.0%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 55,190
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 52,048
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 48,150
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Chefs and Head Chefs (43.2%)

9. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA.

Riverside, California at nightMattGush / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 6.1%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 50,700
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 47,768
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 44,190
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Chefs and Head Chefs (59.8%)

8. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

Orlando Floridasongquan-deng / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 6.2%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 46,140
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 43,455
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 40,200
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Goods exhibitors and window cutters (42.5%)

7. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

Aerial view of Portland with Mount Hood in the background.josemaria-toscano / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 6.2%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 58,240
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 54,816
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 50,710
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Bartender (36.8%)

6. Providence-Warwick, RI-MA

Providence, Rhode IslandSean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 6.4%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 55,930
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 52,557
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 48,620
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Aircraft mechanics and service technicians (55.0%)

5. Raleigh, NC

Raleigh, North CarolinaSharkshock / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 7.0%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 54,850
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 51,270
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 47,430
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Reservation and transport card agencies and travel writers (49.9%)

4. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

Buffalo, New YorkAtomazul / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 7.3%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 50,780
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 47,335
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 43,790
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Tire repairs and changes (60.8%)

3. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO

Denver, Coloradof11photo / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 7.3%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 61,540
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 57,356
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 53,060
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Multiple machine tool setters, operators and tenders, metal and plastic (62.5%)

2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA.

San Francisco, CaliforniaIM_photo / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 8.0%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 75,890
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 70,252
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 64,990
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge and café (44.4%)

1. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

Seattle skylineChecubus / Shutterstock.com

  • Five-year change in average wage adjusted for inflation: 10.4%
  • 2019 average annual wage: $ 68,460
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2019 dollars): $ 62,015
  • Average annual wage 2014 (2014 dollars): $ 57,370
  • Job with the biggest wage increase: Cement masons and pavers (51.7%)

Detailed results and methodology

Redeem walletYulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock.com

With average wages rising by over 10%, the Seattle metropolitan area had the fastest growing wages of any major metropolitan area in the country. A number of other tech centers – San Francisco, Raleigh, Austin, and Boston – also had some of the fastest growing wages from 2014 to 2019. The metros with the highest wage growth tended to have higher wages overall, due to rising wages and geographical inequality. The median annual wage for 2019 in the major metropolitan areas with the greatest wage growth was $ 57,357, compared to $ 53,490 nationally.

Some of the fastest growing wages, small and medium-sized metros, saw even higher wage growth between 2014 and 2019. Some of the medium-sized metros – Honolulu and Salinas, California – saw wages grow by over 10%, while seven of the fastest-growing small metro metros have exceeded that mark.

At the professional level in certain metropolitan areas, large changes in average wages that lie outside the hourly wage increases for certain employees can be observed over a period of five years for various reasons. Such changes in average wages could be due, for example, to changes in local minimum wage laws that have disproportionately affected certain workers, the success or failure of certain local businesses employing large numbers of workers in certain occupations, or changes in the number of available workers Low or high wage positions within certain professions, to name a few. As a result, the jobs that are seeing the greatest wage increases at the local level vary, ranging from cement mason to real estate agent.

To identify the metros with the fastest growing wages, the researchers analyzed data from Labor Statistics (OES) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2019 and 2014. The researchers ranked metropolitan areas according to the inflation-adjusted change in average wages between 2014 and 2019 . In the event of a tie, the subway with the higher average annual wage for 2019 was rated higher.

The inflation-adjusted change in average wages was calculated as the percentage change in average annual wages between 2014 and 2019, with 2014 wages converted to dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index Research Series (CPI-U-RS). The researchers also calculated the occupation with the largest inflation-adjusted wage increase from 2014 to 2019; The occupations included in this analysis were limited to the 200 jobs with the highest national employment. All percentage increases are statistically significant at a confidence level of 10%.

Only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 inhabitants were included in the analysis. In addition, subway areas were divided into the following cohorts based on population size:

  • Small metros: 100,000–349,999
  • Medium-sized metros: 350,000–999,999
  • Large metros: 1 million or more

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, sometimes we get compensation for clicking links in our stories.

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