Skip to main content

Which American Workers Have Gotten the Biggest Raises?

Wages have gone up in a lot of sectors, but the numbers vary quite a bit, according to a Pew Research report.

Workers in restaurants, bars, hotels, or what is also called the “accommodation and food services” sector, saw the sharpest rise in average weekly wages in the April to June quarter of 2021, compared to any other sector of the U.S. economy. Those numbers, however, might be a tad misleading as they're a year-over-year comparison and many of those establishments in America had to shut down or operate on a limited basis during the previous April through June due to public-health restrictions enacted to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The average wage for workers including waiters and bartenders among others in this sector rose 18.4% to $482 a week, after dropping 4.9% between the second quarter of 2019 and the same period in 2020.

The findings are part of a Dec. 22 study by Washington-based think tank Pew Research Center.

Big Raises, Still Low Pay

Despite the recent wage increases, this was still the lowest-paying sector. Jobs in the hospitality and foodservice space contracted by 38% during the previous-year quarter. As restaurants and hotels reopened,

The real wage winners from the pandemic were local messengers and delivery people, whose average weekly wage more than doubled to $1,437 from $680 during the second quarter of 2021 against the same quarter in 2019.

Almost two-thirds of U.S. private-sector payroll workers (63.6%) saw wages increase at least 5% in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, according to the most recently available data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, a product of the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

TheStreet Recommends

Average wages for people working in software publishing, internet publishing and web search portals rose 12.3% to $2,740, between the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year.

"Management pay in this sector rose an average 12% to $2,513 a week, between mid-2020 and mid-2021, after staying nearly flat in the year-earlier period," Pew Research Center reported.

A Lot of Workers Got Raises

Pandemic-related job losses in the information and management sectors  were "considerably smaller" in comparison the food and hospitality sectors, because employees could work from home, the study reported.

Among industries that employed more than 100,000 people, "the financial transaction processing and clearing sector" doubled pay for its 126,000 workers to $4,247 from $2,110 in the quarter ending June 30, 2021 over last year.

Local messengers and delivery people saw wage growth of 92.6%. While new car dealers and dentists’ offices saw wages rise by 40.4% and 27.6% respectively.

These sectors "notched the biggest wage gains between the second quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2021 but had experienced wage declines during the early months of the pandemic," Pew Research Center reported.

A chart shows the number of unemployed people per job opening.

Wages, of course, often go up or down due to supply and demand. Currently, there is less than one unemployed person per available job opening, per data from the BLS.