The Great Recession is the name given to the global economic downturn of the late 2000s. It has also been labeled the Lesser Depression, Long Recession and Second Great Depression.
The Great Recession caused almost every industry to streamline, cut the workforce and reduce or cap salaries. The effects continue today.
Salary Stagnation and Decline
One ongoing impact of the long recession is stagnation of wages and salaries across much of the economic spectrum.
Some increases adjusted for inflation have been noted; in many industries real wages have actually fallen because there has been no adjustments for inflation or cost of living.
The Supply of Professionals Remains Greater Than Demand
Most companies have not hired back an equal number of professionals that were laid off during the recession. They are working with a streamlined workforce, so the jobs are fewer and getting them is more competitive.
The result of supply being greater than demand is that employers do not have to incentify jobs with higher salaries. They are keeping salaries in most professions at levels consistent with those prior to the Great Recession.
The vast majority of new jobs created in this slow recovery are low-paying jobs. In fact, some companies are attempting to get work done formerly accomplished by professionals with temps. This has contributed significantly to keeping salaries soft.
Professional Salary Increases Since the Great Recession
While decline and stagnation is the norm in most sectors of the economy, a few areas have seen an increase in salaries for professionals.
Energy: The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an 11 percent increase in wages from 2013 to 2014. The increase comes from the production of natural gas and oil from shale. Both hourly workers and professionals such as engineers, managers and scientists are enjoying salary increases.
High Tech: The increase, according to the BLS, for high-tech workers has been about 4 percent in the last year. Salaries have increased for engineers, IT professionals, scientists, researchers and designers.
Environmental: Professionals working on environmental issues in government and the private sector have experienced a 7.5 percent increase in salaries in the last year.
Biotechnology: The biotech industry is booming, and salaries for professionals are rising in proportion to the growth.
Project management: Managers for architectural and construction projects are seeing about a 7 percent growth in annual salaries in recent years.
Electrical engineering: According to the BLS, salaries in this field are rising at an average of 7 percent annually.
Software engineering: This is one of the more recession-proof industries, and engineers continue to see annual salary increases of more than 6 percent.
Web Development: From coding to graphic design, professionals in web development are averaging annual salary increases of 6.5 percent.
Temporary Employees (Temps): While temporary employees earn quite a bit less than permanent employees, their wages have increased about 3 percent in the last year. We note this sector because, in some industries, it is preventing increases in the salaries of professionals.