Appearance Deceiving with Wage Growth; What Seemed to Be an Increase Was Likely a Loss in Low-Paying Jobs

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Byline: Kevin Turner

Wage growth in Jacksonville appears to be clawing back up after two years of doldrums, but at least one economist warns that the figure's 2010 rise may not be a sign of hope after all.

Year-over-year growth in Duval County worker pay bottomed out in 2008, hitting 0.2 percent after six years of 3 percent or better year-over-year growth, according to the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

The indicator headed upward again last year, showing 2.6 percent year-over-year. But that likely was due to losses in low-paying jobs, not pay increases across the board, said agency chief economist Rebecca Rust. She said average employment in the county fell by about 10,700 from the end of the third quarter in 2009 to the end of the same quarter in 2010, according to the agency's Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages Program.

"Also, some private employers have continued or resumed to give annual pay increases and annual bonuses," Rust said.

The flattening of growth in 2008 and 2009 was related to reduced work hours and wages, as well as frozen salaries, she said. …