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A new 2010 salary and compensation index released today by PayScale finds that wages for workers at smaller companies (1-99) decreased by 1%.

The PayScale Index follows changes in total cash compensation for full-time, private industry employees in the United States.

PayScale reports that wage levels at the end of 2010 were no higher than they were nearly three years ago although the cost of goods has increased, causing an overall reduction in consumer buying power. Wages have risen on average 0.3% since Q4 2007, while core inflation has increased by 4.5% in the same period.

Other findings include:

•      In Q4 of 2010, earnings for construction workers hit their lowest point in three and a half years. Their earnings were down ~1.5% from just a year ago.
•      Mining, Oil & Gas exploration is one of the few industries to see a growth in wages in Q4 2010 – earnings in this industry were up 0.8% from the previous year. This is not a robust wage recovery, but better than the drops seen in other industries.
•      Earnings for Healthcare workers have remained basically flat for the last two years. During this time, wages dropped, at most, a little over 0.5% from their peak, which is much better than nearly every other industry.
•      Like the country as a whole, manufacturing workers’ wages have not changed in more than a year – Q4 2010 showed no recovery as manufacturing incomes were exactly where they were 12 months earlier.

“2010 was a year when the wages really did not move up or down, rather they moved sideways. Mirroring the stubbornly high unemployment rate, pay was virtually unchanged in 2010 (down 0.1% nationally in Q4 2010 vs the year before). While better than the declining pay of 2009, it is a long way from the “normal” annual increases of 3% or more before the great recession,” said Al Lee, Director of Quantitative Analysis at PayScale.

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