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NEW YORK (CNN Money) – It’s a great time to jump into the job market.
Wages for new workers in the United States were 5% higher in March than a year ago, according to private-sector payroll data provided to CNNMoney by ADP.
Pay is growing faster for new hires than for people staying put at their jobs or switching to a different company. Overall pay grew 2.9%.
For recent graduates landing a job for the first time or workers re-entering the market after time away, wages rose in every sector of the economy. The strongest growth was in the information and construction industries, ADP found.
Wages grew 7.6% for people who landed a job in the information industry — media, television, data processing, telecommunications and non-internet publishing jobs. And pay for new hires in construction climbed 6.8%.
Although the information sector typically seeks white-collar workers and construction relies on blue-collar, the two share a common feature: Both are hungry for skilled workers.
The labor market is short of talent, and employers are willing to pay a premium for qualified workers, explained Ahu Yildirmaz, head of the ADP Research Institute.
ADP’s data reflects a tightening labor market and a country close to what economists consider full employment.
Unemployment is 4.1%, the lowest in 18 years. 6.1 million jobs were unfilled at the end of February, a fraction under last year’s record high, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Employers of all sizes are struggling to fill empty slots. To retain workers and fill new jobs, companies are dishing out one-time bonuses, pay raises and sweeter benefits.
“More companies are offering out-of-the-box benefits that have been traditionally reserved for Silicon Valley companies,” said Jason Guggisberg, a regional vice president at the employment services firm Adecco USA. Employers are also widening their candidate pools and loosening requirements, he said.
The tight market still pays off for employees who switch jobs, ADP found.
One in five private-sector employees switched last year, and wages for job-hoppers climbed 4.4% in March compared with a year earlier.
Wages for employees who changed jobs on the West Coast jumped 8.2% from a year earlier, compared with 1.9% for people who switched in the Midwest and 3% in the South.
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