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Average Wages in Washington Have Increased for the First Time Since 2011

Thanks to a delayed raise for federal employees.
Average Wages in Washington Have Increased for the First Time Since 2011
Chart via Center for Regional Analysis.

Workers in the Washington area enjoyed their first wage increases since 2011 last year, says a report by researchers at George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis. Wages for the average local office-dweller increased 0.5 percent to $69,645, according to data published by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The growth represents the first time in three years that the region’s workers have seen their paychecks expand. But even with the slight declines between 2011 and 2013, average wages in Washington have stayed above those in nearly ever other major metropolitan areas.

Much of the rebound appears to come from the first raise for federal employees after a several-year wage freeze. Federal employees across the Washington region saw their average salary rise 3.6 percent to $103,238. State and local government workers received a 0.3 percent raise to $55,421, while private-sector workers’ wages budged up just 0.1 percent to $66,287.

But geography also played a big role in how much people’s earnings improved. The biggest increase came to workers in the District, where there are 729,119 jobs. Their wages went up 1.7 percent to $85,846. The average worker in suburban Maryland got a 0.7 percent bump to $59,089. But the average salary in Northern Virginia actually fell by 0.4 percent to $68,385. That drop was fueled mostly by a 1.1 percent decrease last year in the average wages for professional, scientific, and technical service jobs, the GMU report states.

While DC-area workers may be relieved—or inspired to ask their bosses for a raise—by the overall 0.5 percent growth, Washington’s wage improvement pales against other metropolitan areas. Of the 15 largest regions for employment, wages in Seattle grew 2.9 percent last year, while workers in Boston and Houston got a 2.4 percent raise.

Still, even with a couple of relatively lean years, Washington remains better off than other metros. Only the San Francisco ($78,854) and New York (($71,224) regions have higher average wages than here.

Read the full report:

BLS AverageWage 061815

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.