May 2, 2022 - Economy

Leisure and hospitality wages keep up with inflation

Growth in total compensation
Data: FRED; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Average compensation is up this year for everyone, but for most workers wage increases are getting erased by record-high inflation.

  • Not for the lowest-income workers, though. These folks are actually seeing big increases in pay.

The big picture: Total compensation for all workers in the U.S. in Q1 was up 4.5% from last year, according to the Employment Cost Index released Friday. It is a measure of how much employers pay for workers' wages and benefits.

  • Total comp in the leisure and hospitality sector rose 8.4% year over year.

Flashback: In March 2020, leisure and hospitality workers were absolutely crushed by widespread lockdowns. Millions lost their jobs or showed up to empty bars and restaurants and went home with meager tips.

  • The fact that these workers are seeing big wage increases makes intuitive sense: A lot of places have had to rehire entirely new staff — and new hires typically see bigger wage increases, as data from the Atlanta Fed wage tracker shows.
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