Wages in McLean County are flat and lagging the rest of the U.S. economy despite low unemployment, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The average weekly wage in McLean County was $999 in the third quarter of 2019, BLS reported this week. That’s actually $1 less than that same time in 2018. By contrast, average wages for the rest of the U.S. economy rose 3.6% from 2018 to 2019, according to BLS.
Average weekly wages declined or were flat in two of McLean County’s Top 5 largest employment sectors. Wages for the financial activities sector (which includes finance and insurance jobs) declined 8.3% during 3Q 2019. They were flat in the leisure and hospitality sector, which includes lower-paying food service and hotel jobs. Both sectors lagged growth seen in the U.S. economy overall.
It’s not just a one-year issue. McLean County’s wage growth over the past five years has lagged the U.S. economy in four of Bloomington-Normal’s largest sectors. Those are trade, transportation, and utilities; education and health services; leisure and hospitality; and professional and business services. The only exception for wage growth between 2015-19 is financial services, where McLean County outpaced the U.S. overall by 4 percentage points.
McLean County’s stagnant wages are in contrast to what some other metro communities are experiencing. Boulder, Colo., saw the largest over-the-year percentage increase in average weekly wages (18.4%) in 3Q 2019. Of the 10 largest counties in the U.S., Dallas saw the largest over-the-year gain in average wages (4.9%).
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