Thanks to increases in the second half of 2012, wages grew by about 3.5% last year, according to PayScale. These five jobs saw the largest year-over-year pay increases.
1. Media & Publishing
- Pay growth in 2012: 4.6%
- Median pay: $48,100
From well-compensated television personalities to lesser paid newspaper scribes and bloggers, the media and publishing industry took a beating during the recession and industry layoffs soared.
"After a bumpy 2008-2011 that resulted in little-to-no growth, this job category caught fire in 2012," said Katie Bardaro, PayScale's lead economist.
Advertising spending, which fuels the industry's growth, has picked up during the recovery. Yet hiring still remains below pre-recession levels, said Bardaro, and firms are demanding greater productivity from workers.
"It's usually cheaper to pay one productive worker a higher wage rate than to hire two less productive workers at a lower wage rate," she said.
2. Information Technology
- Pay growth in 2012: 4.4%
- Median pay: $75,500
Programmers, webmasters, systems analysts and other information technology workers managed to weather the recession pretty much unscathed.
"We live in an age when our dependence on technology is only increasing and firms are consistently trying to increase their technological presence in order to match this demand," said Bardaro.
Unemployment among IT workers has stayed consistently low and now stands at under 4%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Companies have to compete to hire the best talent and that has sent wages about 10% higher than they were in early 2007 -- one of highest gains for any group over that period, according to PayScale.
- Pay growth in 2012: 4.2%
- Median pay: $55,200
Carpenters, roofers, laborers and other construction workers saw their unemployment rate soar to 27% at the height of the housing bust.
As the housing market stages a comeback, home construction has nearly doubled from its 2009 low and builders are hiring again.
"This wage growth tied together with the increase in housing starts are signs the construction industry is healing from the devastation it experienced," said Bardaro.
The 1.3% increase in pay the industry saw in the fourth quarter was the biggest quarterly rise in four years. However, net wages for construction workers are about 1.7% below late 2008 levels.
4. Marketing & Advertising
- Pay growth in 2012: 4.2%
- Median pay: $68,000
Advertising and marketing are one of the first expenses businesses cut back on when they hit a financial rough patch -- and that was especially true during the recession.
But as consumer spending recovers from those down years, companies are starting to hire copywriters, promoters and marketers again hoping to maintain or even gain market share, said Bardaro.
As a result, wages are on the move. Year-over year pay climbed 4.2% last year, matching the best performance for the job category since PayScale began monitoring pay in 2007.
5. Architects & Engineers
- Pay growth in 2012: 3.9%
- Median pay: $68,200
When the housing bubble burst, architects were left with very few projects to work on.
But they've had a good run lately, with billings up for four consecutive months through November, according to the American Institute of Architects.
"These are the strongest business conditions we have seen since the end of 2007," said the institute's chief economist, Kermit Baker.
Engineers, meanwhile, are in even higher demand. "Biomedical, petroleum, environmental and civil engineers are seeing some of the highest growth," said Payscale's Bardaro.
Due mostly to gains by engineers, wages for this job category have grown faster than any other -- up 11.2% since PayScale started tracking them back in 2007.
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