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Which Job Sectors Have Enjoyed the Fastest Wage Increases?

AndreyPopov / Getty Images/iStockphoto

AndreyPopov / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Not all sectors of the U.S. economy have had the same impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, and not all are recovering at the same rate. Some sectors enjoyed steady growth throughout the pandemic, especially those where business could be conducted remotely. Others, like hospitality and tourism, took a big hit that resulted in millions of lost jobs and closures.

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As business researcher AdvisorSmith noted in a recent report, a common theme emerging from the economic recovery is the increase in costs of both raw materials and labor. Many businesses are reporting shortages of available workers. That’s bad news for businesses, but good news for employees in economic sectors where wages have risen.

AdvisorSmith examined data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to find the sectors and jobs where average hourly wages have risen the most. Nationally, the average hourly wage for private-sector workers rose by 9.9% between May 2019 and May 2021, from an average of $23.36 per hour in May 2019 to $25.67 per hour two years later. 

Here’s a look at some of the occupations that benefited the most, with the two-year average wage increases based on BLS data.

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Freestanding Emergency Medical Centers

26.9% increase

This job category covers healthcare practitioners and technical occupations, including doctors, nurses, physical therapists and medical technicians. The average hourly wage rose to $35.99 in May 2021 from $28.36 in May 2019.

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Car Dealers & Automotive Mechanics

26.8% increase

Jobs in this category include auto sales workers, vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, and installers and repairers. The average hourly wage rose to $26.00 in May 2021 from $20.51 in May 2019.

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Professional Employer Organizations

26.6% increase

This job category includes office and administrative support occupations. The average hourly wage rose to $22.98 in May 2021 from $18.15 in May 2019.

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Employment Placement Agencies and Executive Search Services

26.0% increase

Just as with Professional Employer Organizations, jobs in this category include office and administrative support occupations. The average hourly wage rose to $32.35 in May 2021 from $25.68 in May 2019. 

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Boilers, Tanks and Shipping Containers

25.6% increase

This job category includes manufacturing, distribution and warehouse workers. The average hourly wage rose to $28.30 in May 2021 from $22.54 in May 2019. 

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Furniture Stores

23.2% increase

Jobs in this category include retail sales workers and transportation and material moving occupations. The average hourly wage rose to $23.45 in May 2021 from $19.04 in May 2019. 

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Poultry Processing

 22.7% increase

This job category includes food processing workers and transportation and material moving occupations. The average hourly wage rose to $18.13 in May 2021 from $14.78 in May 2019.

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Building Material and Supplies Dealers

21.8% increase

Jobs in this category include sales workers and transportation and material moving occupations. The average hourly wage rose to $21.37 in May 2021 from $17.55 in May 2019.

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Support Activities for Road Transportation

20.9% increase

This job category includes heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers. The average hourly wage rose to $21.80 in May 2021 from $18.03 in May 2019.

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Building Material and Garden Supply Stores

20.0% increase

This job category includes retail sales workers and transportation and material moving occupations. The average hourly wage rose to $20.90 in May 2021 from $17.41 in May 2019.

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