Paychecks on the Rise

Local wages post 12-​month gain
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Wages in southwestern Pennsylvania are rising steadily. In fact, the rate of increase was greater than all but two of the 15 Pittsburgh Today’s benchmark regions in the second quarter of 2018.

The average weekly wage in the seven-​county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area was $1,042 in the second quarter of 2018, according to the latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Local wages rose 4 percent from the second quarter of 2017.

Among the benchmark regions, only Seattle and St. Louis had a higher rate of wage growth for that period.

Local energy industry jobs are helping fuel the trend.

We have seen a rebound in the energy industry in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area. It’s a big driver of jobs, but it’s also a big driver of wages,” said Gus Faucher, senior vice president and chief economist of PNC Financial Services. “With the increase in energy production that we’ve been seeing, that’s really been a big boost to wage growth and that’s likely to persist through the rest of 2018.”

Wages in the region are following a national growth trend. But the average weekly wage in the Pittsburgh MSA remains lower than the Pittsburgh Today benchmark average of $1,110 for the second quarter. The highest average wage among those regions is found in Seattle, where workers are paid $1,441 a week, on average. Indianapolis reports the lowest at $961 a week.

Pittsburgh has historically had lower than average wages, which, Faucher said, is not all bad for the regional economy. “Below average wages are good news for attracting businesses. That is a factor that will support business relocations. From a worker standpoint, they want higher wages and that would be a boost for the consumer industries. But generally, the labor cost advantages are a positive for the area.”

Julia Fraser

Julia Fraser is a Pittsburgh Today staff writer and research specialist.

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