Money Talks

Re: Money Talks - In Hushed Tones
  • 6/6/2014 3:35:20 PM

Latest employment report came out today. Employment is back to its pre-recession level. Really good big picture links:

In short, the A2 salary poll numbers are on target; as the nation goes, so does analytics in terms of employment, hours and earnings.

Money Talks - In Hushed Tones
  • 6/2/2014 2:36:13 PM


This link is to the latest stats from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. You might have to zoom the view a bit, but the information corroborates the other noted income trends:

There are three tables/pages in this PDF (data from 2010-2014>recovery/post-recession, 2005-2009>pre-recession/recession, 1959-2013). Of particular interest is the footnote at the bottom of page 3:


The 2.8% increase in Personal Income was the smallest increase since 2009 (-2.8%).

The 1.9% increase in DPI was the smallest increase since 2009 (-0.5%).

The 0.7% increase in Real DPI was the smallest increase since 2009 (-0.5%).

The 3.2% increase in PCE was the smallest increase since 2009 (-1.6%).

The 2.0% increase in Real PCE was equaled in 2010 and was the smallest increase since 2009 (-1.6%).

The Personal Saving level of $561.3 billion was the smallest since 2008 ($551.3 billion).

DPI – Disposable Personal Income

PCE – Personal Consumption Expenditures

In short, the salaries of analytics professionals are a part of the national trend. There are some gun-slingers out there who are supplying high-demand skill sets and receiving compensation in-kind, but for the most part we are part of the same herd.

Re: Why, oh why?
  • 5/30/2014 10:38:20 AM

Beth, At the risk of sounding harsh, I think that these labor market statistics should serve as a reality check and a reminder that what we do in analytics is provide information for the decision makers – unless you are a manager, then you are not a decision maker. When we see salaries rise for analysts, data scientists, BI experts, etc., it simply means that their market value has gone up in proportion to the value of information they provide and it speaks to their organization’s inability to get that information from another source. If we go back to the basic principles of economics, natural resources, physical/financial capital and human capital are the inputs to producing goods and services. When we read the marketing language about analytics providing strategic advantages, we must remember that those messages are meant for the generals – not the infantry. The legacy name for what we do is ‘decision support’. We provide the skills, knowledge and abilities to unearth the information that other people need to make business decisions or shape public policy. If I trace the start of my career back to my undergraduate studies, then I can reference 37 years of experience in analytics in some form. Regardless of the discipline (pick your ‘ology’), the goal of all scientific inquiry has been to understand the world around us to so that we can make better decisions and make life better in general. I have seen a lot of technical advances in 37 years, but the investigatory objectives are pretty much the same. Many of earlier posts were steeped in philosophy because most of what we do in analytics came from the musings and thought experiments of the pre-Socratic and Socratic thought leaders. That ancient work led to formal methods in the natural sciences and then the social sciences. But whether they were trying to determine if one could step in the same river twice or find patterns in big data, the work has pretty much been the same for the last 2,500 years – get information so that we can explain, predict and improve our world. To that extent, the people most likely to be rewarded first will be those who use the information to innovate. That does not mean that we are not without leverage. As suggested in an earlier post, that if we focus on making our bosses successful, that will increase the probability of seeing a bump in our own salaries. But otherwise, we roll with the economy. We should also keep in mind that our skill sets are not compensated the same globally. Hence, there is no reason to increase compensation in the US analytics labor market when there are folks in other parts of the world who can be hired to do the same work for half the cost. And with more software becoming ‘press and play’ vis-à-vis needing hard core programming, our profession is becoming commoditized. Let’s face it, Excel has enough built-in functions and features to handle many basic reporting needs. The pattern of salary stagnation you saw in 2008-2009 was due to the fact that we gambled with collateralized debt obligations and mortgaged backed securities –everybody took a hit. I think the flatness that you see now is just that analytics are not demanding increasing salaries. At an individual level – yes. But as a whole – no. We just have to ride of the tide of the general labor market dynamics. COLA increase of 3-5% - sure that will enable good employees to cover their food and energy cost increases. Those folks with 5% raises may be getting caught up from being frozen during the 2008-2009 period. In short, since we are just coming out of recovery, any salary increases should not be interpreted as a sudden rise in profitability due to analytics. Companies make be trying to retain their good folks and play catch up. What would be a better assessment is to repeat this survey in two years, By then the recovery should not distort compensation.

Why, oh why?
  • 5/29/2014 3:47:04 PM

These early results has my mind achurnin' -- particularly regarding those couple of folks who suffered a loss in salary. I hope we're not back at that situation, a la 2008-2009, where companies sliced salaries rather than initiating layoffs. Ouch.

Re: Employment, Hours and Earnings - For Your Review
  • 5/29/2014 3:44:01 PM

Thanks for the "where to go" info, Bryan. Interesting, even those with specialized BI and data skills, at least according to the InformationWeek salary survey, are flat. I'm not entirely sure what to make of that. 

Employment, Hours and Earnings - For Your Review
  • 5/27/2014 9:04:38 AM

Labor market activity as it relates to employment, hours and earnings can be found here:

You can choose the years to control the graph output and choose other formatting options. If you drill down to the Information Industry(which includes IT), you will see that there was a bump up in 2000 but then things dropped after 9/11. In short, the national labor market for IT is relatively uneventful right now. IT (regardless of how it is marketed) is unlikely to see a sizable increase in salaries across the board for some time. Maybe for someone with specialized skills but across the board - nothing much above COLA adjustments (food and energy price increases primarily). So dust off those economics text books - the supply and demand lessons you learned are in play.