The future for pay increases is actually brighter for electricians and other construction workers than for doctors, dentists and lawyers, according to at least one October 2023 forecast.
Using historical earnings data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics over the past 10 years, telecom provider TollFreeForwarding.com projected what the mean hourly wages for 16 professions would be in 2033. While all professions will make more money than they do today in absolute terms, when adjusted for the Federal Reserve’s expected inflation rate of 2.13%, not every profession will actually see an increase in earnings.
For electricians, that means an hourly increase of 49 cents from $32.33 in 2023 to $32.82 in 2033 after adjusting for inflation, though the analysis represents the mean wage for electricians at all levels, from part-time, entry-level apprentice to full-time journeyman with decades of experience. Without adjusting for inflation, the absolute wage increase for electricians is expected to be $41.70.
Across the industry, construction workers of all types should see a $4.63 bump in pay to $38.52 by 2033, adjusted for inflation ($48.94 without).
The report also projects an increase for telecom workers from $41.46 in 2023 to $42.47, adjusted for inflation ($53.97 without).
Six other professions should also expect to see a rise in earnings despite inflation, including registered nurses, journalists, janitors, cashiers, bartenders and artists/writers/performers.
On the other hand, doctors, dentists and lawyers top the list for those professions that won’t see a pay increase, but these three occupations are still projected to have the three highest salaries of all 16 professions analyzed. Despite the large hourly incomes, doctors are projected to make $2.89 less per hour in 10 years after adjusting for inflation, while lawyers can expect to make $5 less and dentists $13.72 less per hour.
Other professions projected to earn less after adjusting for inflation are IT workers, teachers, graphic designers and passenger vehicle drivers such as buses and taxis— though for all of these categories, the projected rise in inflation won’t erase their absolute pay increases as much as it will for the three highest-earning professions.
What are the contributing factors that cause some professions to see their pay increases not keeping up with inflation over others? The primary driver, unsurprisingly, is the demand for the job and the number of qualified workers available to fill openings—and that, in turn, can be affected by the number of students in the pipeline at colleges and trade schools, according to the report.
“Overall, college enrollment is declining, with the United States seeing roughly a 10% decrease over the last decade,” the telecom provider wrote in its blogpost. “As such, there are fewer college-educated candidates to fill vacant jobs in industries that require a degree. Comparatively, trade school enrollment is up year on year across a number of programs.”
Still, construction workers, particularly those trained in the trades, will see wage increases even after adjusting for inflation, “as demand for these jobs is expected to increase as they require specialized skill sets to perform,” the report’s authors wrote.
For doctors, dentists and lawyers, however, supply coming out of medical and law schools is expected to outpace actual demand, and as such, salaries can be expected to become stagnant, according to the report.