Colorado workers outpace national average for wage increases

Colorado workers who were at the same job for the past year saw median annual pay increases of 7.4% in June, outpacing the 6.4% annual increase measured nationally, according to the latest ADP Pay Insights.

The median annual salary for Colorado workers is $62,500, which is above the U.S. median in June of $57,400, according to ADP, which samples 10 million paystubs each month for its Pay Insights report.

Colorado ranks ninth among U.S. states and the District of Columbia for the percentage gain in pay that its workers are receiving.

“Colorado has outperformed in the last two years. It really shows that employers are making an effort to increase their talent retention,” said Liv Wang, a senior data scientist at the ADP Research Institute.

Employers are also trying to keep pace with inflation, which topped 8% a year ago in metro Denver and was running closer to 3% nationally in June. But Wang argues the biggest wage gains are coming in the sectors with the most severe worker shortages, some of which are tied back to the pandemic.

The highest pay increases are coming in leisure and hospitality and in health care and more generally among lower-paying service jobs held by younger workers.

“Since the pandemic, there has been a big shortage in leisure and hospitality,” Wang said.

Workers under the age of 25 are seeing 15% median pay increases over the past year, compared to 4.6% gains for those 55-plus.

The ADP numbers provide workers looking to obtain a pay raise more ammunition than those coming from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average weekly wage in Colorado was down 0.9% in the fourth quarter compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the BLS’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, which came out in June.

Nationally, average weekly wages were down 2.3% in the U.S. last year and in Boulder County, they were down 5%.

The BLS numbers are based on a sample of wage earners that varies with each survey. The ADP numbers are tied to individuals who were employed a year earlier at the same job.

If they don’t keep pace with overall wage gains in their industry, employers risk having employees jump ship. Last year, those who left their jobs received pay increases that were more than double of those who stayed put on a percentage basis, according to ADP.

That gap has since narrowed, but nationally job hoppers earned an 11.2% increase in pay versus the 6.4% annual gain for job stayers in June.

In a separate survey of 2,500 workers, ADP found that about three in 10 workers believe they aren’t paid fairly. Of that dissatisfied group, nearly four in 10 plan to leave their current job, compared to only two in 10 of those who think they are being paid a fair wage.

Employees who believe they are being paid a fair wage are nearly three times more likely to recommend their employer to friends and family, much more likely to be engaged at work, and more loyal and resilient, the survey found.

Education, retail and healthcare workers are more likely to describe themselves as underpaid, while workers in technology, construction and real estate are more likely to see themselves as being paid fairly.

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