Though many temp workers would like full-time jobs with benefits, at least their pay is climbing. Robert Half International, a staffing firm, says higher pay for its temps forced it to raise the rates it charges employers by 2.6 percent in the first quarter, a point higher than its increase late last year.
Non-managers at computer-system design companies earned an average 4.1 percent more in April than a year ago, the latest in a string of increases beginning in 2012. Their pay hadn't risen in the three prior years. Pay is strong for specialists in "Big Data"—digital information that includes data culled from mobile devices to spot trends or build digital dossiers on people.
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Also hot are people who use technology to help health care providers digitize medical records. Nearly three-quarters of health care providers are having trouble attracting workers with expertise in e-records, according to a survey last year by Towers Watson, a consultant.
BLUE COLLAR BOUNCE
As manufacturing picks up, trucking companies are desperate for drivers. And not surprisingly, truckers are earning more. Hourly pay for transportation and warehouse workers was 4.4 percent higher than a year earlier in each of the past three months—a streak unmatched in over three decades.
Ryder Systems, which rents trucks, said in a call with financial analysts that it's facing upward pressure on drivers' wages. Many drivers retired or left the industry during the financial crisis when demand plunged.
"I definitely am making more money," said Darrell Beyer, 56, a driver from Kingman, Arizona.
So are workers at companies that make construction equipment. They earned an average 11 percent more an hour in the past year, according to the BLS.
Pay for non-managerial and production workers—who fill 80 percent of private non-farm jobs—is rising 2.3 percent annually. In previous recoveries, raises for these workers peaked at about 4 percent three or four years after they'd begun climbing. That raises at least the possibility that their pay will keep rising.
Many of the skilled workers who are needed to build homes fled to other careers after the housing bust. Now, there aren't enough of them. Home construction workers have received an average 3.3 percent raise a year, according to the BLS, since their wages starting rising in 2012. They'd fallen 4 percent over the previous two years.
Buck Consultants, a pay adviser, foresees raises for all construction workers, including those involved in commercial and industrial buildings, averaging more than 3 percent for a second straight year.
Among the industry laggards on pay:
Consumers are spending more, but that's not helping workers at some stores who earn the minimum wage or little more. Though some cities and states have enacted higher minimums, the minimum in 28 states is no more than the federal mandate of $7.25 an hour.