Wages on Long Island continue to rise slowly, about on par with inflation, federal data released Tuesday show.
The average annual salary for all occupations on the Island rose 6.3 percent to $56,670 in May 2016 from $53,300 in May 2013, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The annual growth rate was about 2.1 percent a year.
The average hourly wage rose by $1.61 in the same period to $27.24.
The data are based on statistics that are averaged over three years, so year-to-year comparisons aren’t possible. The figures don’t include overtime pay or benefits.
Economists have long been expecting local wages to recover as the employment market added a record number of jobs in the past few years. And those expectations intensified as the Island reached full employment, classically defined as an unemployment rate of 4 percent or lower. The Island’s unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in April, the latest state Labor Department data show.
But overall wage growth has continued to be weak.
John A. Rizzo, economics professor at Stony Brook University and chief economist of the Long Island Association trade group, said the 2.1 percent annual growth in wages, which he said was roughly keeping up with inflation, reflects the higher unemployment rates on the Island in the years the data covers. For example, the Island’s average annual unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in 2013.
“That would mean there is not much upward pressure on wages,” Rizzo said.
With the Island currently at full employment, he expects the pattern to change.
“I would expect greater wage growth going forward,” he said.
Among some of the fastest-growing jobs on Long Island, the health care support occupation category, which includes home-health aides and nursing assistants, saw average annual wages rise 9 percent to $35,650 between May 2013 and May 2016.
On the other hand, in the Island’s highest paying sector, financial activities, which has been losing jobs, the average annual salary for those in the market-research analyst and marketing-specialist occupations fell to $68,430 in 2016, from $72,080 in 2013.