Pay is rising, but not for these American jobs

Last Updated Jul 6, 2017 4:31 PM EDT

A tighter labor market generally means higher wages for workers, as employers boost pay to attract new employees. But what happens when automation is thrown into the mix? 

For some jobs, it's leading to lower pay, a trend that may portend a troubling future for some Americans. Automation -- called the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" by the World Economic Forum -- is forecast to lead to 5.1 million job losses over the next several years. 

Loan officers are a case in point. These workers have suffered the steepest wage decline in the past year -- a drop of 5.3 percent between June 2016 and June 2017, according to a new report from employment site Glassdoor. Software and artificial intelligence can replicate some of the tasks that bank workers used to handle, Glassdoor said. 

By comparison, employment recruiters enjoyed the strongest wage growth, with wages surging 8.4 percent in the same period. 

"Automation is certainly playing a role in jobs with declining pay," said Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain in a statement. "Companies are utilizing new technology, and many tasks which used to require a skilled person no longer do. Banks can share financial advice and process more loan applications online, and product designs and operations analyses are likewise becoming more automated."

Other financial jobs suffering from similar trends include financial advisers and tax managers, which both suffered wage declines of 1.2 percent in the past year. Their annual median pay slipped to $53,522 and $90,732, respectively. 

While the tech industry has benefited from tight demand and higher pay, not all tech jobs are gaining -- thanks again to automation in tech-related fields where tasks can be replaced by software programs, for instance. Design engineers saw their pay fall 3.8 percent to $69,490, while Java developers witnessed a 0.9 percent dip to $71,401. 

At the national level, wages are growing, yet not as strongly as economists say they would expect given the nation's low unemployment rate. Glassdoor noted that the rate of pay growth has been slowing. 

The typical American worker said their pay rose 1.7 percent to $51,324 during the last 12 months through June. That's a significantly slower pace than the 3.1 percent recorded in January, Glassdoor said. 

It's also not enough for American workers to keep ahead of inflation, the employment site noted. Wage growth is now two-tenths of a percentage point lower than the inflation rate, marking the first time in three years that inflation has outpaced pay growth. 

That's problematic because Americans essentially take a pay cut when their earnings aren't keeping up with inflation, making it tougher to afford everything from food to housing. 

Here are the five jobs with the highest and lowest wage growth from June 2016 to June 2017. 

Strongest wage growth:

1. Recruiter: $51,585 (8.4 percent)

2. Barista: $24,593 (7.7 percent)

3. Restaurant cook: $29,025 (7.2 percent)

4. Claims adjuster: $51,320 (6.6 percent)

5. Customer service manager: $54,054 (6.4 percent)

Weakest wage growth: 

1. Loan officer: $44,306 (-5.3 percent)

2. Design engineer: $69,490 (-3.8 percent)

3. Operations analyst: $52,412 (-2.5 percent)

4. Network engineer: $68,809 (-2.2 percent)

5. Business development manager: $67,246 (-1.8 percent)