Pay increases in metro Denver and Boulder are expected to average 3.1 percent for the third year in a row, according to an annual compensation survey from the Employers Council.
“It is tracking along with inflation, certainly not much higher or lower,” said Sue Wolf, director of surveys with the Employers Council. “It has been fairly stable in Denver and Boulder for the last 3 years.”
Those counting on a super-tight labor market to send pay skyrocketing will have to keep on waiting. But metro Denver resident may finally get a break this year and next — wages gains that finally outpace the rise in housing costs.
Statewide, employers forecast average pay hikes of 3 percent next year, down from 3.1 percent this year and on par with the increases reported in 2018, according to the survey.
Resort area employers are projecting 3.5 percent average pay increases next year, the highest in the survey, while employers in Pueblo and on the Western Slope are looking at 2.5 percent, the lowest.
Finance and real estate are expected to see the biggest pay hikes among industries at 4.3 percent, followed by construction at 3.4 percent.
Nearly a tenth of Colorado companies surveyed planned to super-size pay increases to 6.7 percent for positions they considered “critical to recruit.” But Colorado employers don’t appear as desperate as those in Arizona and Wyoming, where 11 percent and 10 percent increases for critical employees are expected.
Pay hikes in Colorado consistently ran 4 percent or higher from 1977 to 2001 and stayed above 3 percent last decade until the Great Recession hit. From 2009 to 2017 they ran below 3 percent.
As wage gains hold steady, inflation is slowing, including housing. Apartment rents in metro Denver rose 2.4 percent in the second quarter on an annual basis, according to the Apartment Association of Metro Denver. The median price of a home sold in metro Denver was up 2.3 percent in June from a year ago, according to the Denver Metro Association of Realtors.
Consumer inflation was running at a 1.6 percent annual clip in May in the Denver area, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from a 2.7 percent pace last year.
The survey included 426 Colorado employers, with about half from metro Denver and Boulder.