Despite recent budgetary concerns surrounding the so-called fiscal cliff, U.S. wages appear to be growing -- even in industries where you wouldn’t expect it.
Media and publishing professions saw the largest annual growth in wages in the fourth quarter of 2012 in six years, according to the latest reading of the PayScale Index. The job category, which comprises public relations jobs, media and communication workers as well as entertainers and performers, saw a 4.6 percent increase in wages, outpacing the national average wage increase of 3.5 percent for the year and far surpassing any wage increases in the industry since 2006. The entertainment industry, meanwhile, saw a 2.4 percent quarterly wage growth, the highest ever.
Paco Underhill, founder of New York-based consumer-behavior research and consulting firm Envirosell, connected the wage increases seen in media, publishing and entertainment jobs to changes in the industry, which have forced employers to do more with fewer employees during the weak economic recovery.
"Almost all media businesses are doing a similar volume of work in 2012 but with fewer headcount," he told The Huffington Post. " If an employer is getting more work out of better people, that means they have to compensate them for what they are doing."
The PayScale Index follows the change in wages of employed U.S. workers, revealing trends in compensation for jobs over time. Overall, PayScale found that the last quarter of 2012 was strong for wage growth across industries. Many professions even saw wages surpass their highest levels since 2006.
“The business world is not letting the uncertainty in D.C. slow them down too much,” said Katie Bardaro, lead economist at PayScale. “Hiring is still happening and wages are still growing.”
The December jobs report indicated that hiring also held up despite fiscal disputes on Capitol Hill. The economy added 155,000 jobs last month, led by construction with 30,000 jobs. The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.
Although the economy added more jobs in December than expected, recent readings of American's confidence in the economy have been mixed. While the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index dropped significantly, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index jumped to its highest level since April.
The latest PayScale Index supports an overall trend of steady wage growth across sectors in the last quarter of 2012, yet not every industry was a winner. Jobs in business operation support services and social services saw very little wage growth compared to last year. Washington D.C. recorded the lowest annual wage growth in a major metropolitan area, followed by St. Louis and Detroit.
Joseph Brusuelas, Senior Economist at Bloomberg LP, cautioned against putting too much stock in the wage increases reflected in the PayScale Index, which may not be permanent.
“A majority of the gains likely occurred in December, when total aggregate hours worked increased and year end bonuses are often paid, reflecting temporary bumps in wages that are not sustainable,” he wrote in an email to HuffPost.
Check out the full list of jobs with higher wage growth in 2012 than the national average: