southern-california-pay-hikes-take-nation’s-third-largest-tumble

The pandemic’s economic damage has cooled Southern California pay raises.

The Employment Cost Index shows pay in five Southern California counties rose at a 3.1% annual rate in the 12 months ended in September, down from 4.2% a year earlier. The 1.2 percentage-point drop was third-largest among the 15 regions tracked. The index — which tracks wages in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties — is an attempt to gauge changes in worker costs.

Thinner pay hikes come as little surprise as demand for local workers is down amid strict business limitations designed to slow the spread of coronavirus. L.A.-Orange County has the second-biggest unemployment rise among large U.S. metro areas in a year. The Inland Empire ranked No. 8.

Here’s what else you need to know:

• Of the regions tracked nationwide, Southern California pay raises ranked sixth. By the way, it was the lowest level of local raises in two years.

• Tops was the Bay Area at 4%, and No. 2 was Washington, D.C. at 3.9%. A year ago, Southern California’s pay increases ranked No. 1 out of the 15 metros.

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• Smallest hikes this quarter? Miami at 1.6% in the past year, followed by New York at 1.9%.

• Nationally, pay in September was rising at a 2.7% annual rate vs. 3% a year earlier.

• Best wage change in a year? Washington, D.C. — up 1.5 percentage points. Worst performance? New York, down 2.1 points.

• Since 2016, Southern California pay increases by this math have averaged 3.57% vs. 2.77% nationally and 3.23% in Western states.

The report also tracks total compensation, changes in pay and benefit costs. For Southern California, total compensation rose 4.2% in a year in the most recent period — No. 1 nationally — vs. 3.7% a year earlier.

Nationally, the latest reading for total compensation shows an annualized increase of 2.4% vs. 2.7% a year earlier.

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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