How’s Your Salary? Detroit Area Wages Still Down After Signs of Recovery

If you’re feeling squeezed by the recession, you’re obviously not alone. Since the bottom fell out of the economy in 2009, the Detroit metro area in particular has been struggling to regain its footing when it comes to jobs and wages. Now, after a promising start to 2010, things might be heading downhill again.

That’s according to a national survey this month conducted by PayScale, a Seattle-based firm focused on collecting and organizing salary and compensation data across companies, geographies, and industries.

The Detroit numbers indicate that the region trailed significantly behind the national trend in wage growth between 2006 and the first quarter of 2008. Then, from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2009, the average wage in Detroit fell by 3.1 percent (see chart below). Wages improved somewhat at the end of 2009 and through the first quarter of this year, but have fallen again for the past two quarters.

Quarterly Compensation Trends for National (US)
The PayScale Index uses 2006 average total cash compensation as a baseline.
National (US)
Detroit Metro Area
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Compensation Data Provided by PayScale, Inc.

The above curves were calculated in terms of PayScale’s “index” (see the methodology here, which involves tracking total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees). So the absolute wage numbers aren’t as important as the trend—or the comparisons among different regions of the country (which you can see and interact with here).

Bottom line: Wages might get a little worse before they get better, or at least stabilize, in Detroit.

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