Hourly wages in Austin are going up and the jump is big. According to Austin Economic Indicators average hourly wages in the private sector went up by 4.9 percent at the end of last year. The wage growth is making it harder for employers to stay competitive in Austin’s tight job market.
P. Terry's Burger Stand works hard to attract customers and puts in just as much effort to woo employees.
“You just have to work a little bit harder to get the people you want,” said Patrick Terry, founder of P. Terry’s Burger Stand.
Across Austin the average hourly wage in the private sector is on the rise. Minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, but no one at the fast-food restaurant chain that operates in Texas is being paid that to flip burgers and bag fries.
“There are people here who might make $12 an hour. There are people who might make $14 and people who might make $15,” said Terry.
Terry says higher wages are just one way to stand out when Austin’s economy is booming and the unemployment rate is below three percent.
“We handed out about $100,000 in bonuses at Christmas and that's not to management. That's lower level. That's to people who are taking your orders and cooking your food,” said Terry.
Carrie Spann is a trainee at a Mayfield Dairy Queen. She left another job to work at the DQ at 8300 N. Burnet Road for more reasons than just a pay raise.
“It's very family oriented,” said Spann.
But extra perks and a good working environment must be on top of a competitive salary. The sign outside the DQ promises a starting hourly wage of $12.
“Not only can you come in at $12 an hour, you can earn two raises in like 90 days if you're productive,” said Robert Mayfield, owner of eight Dairy Queens in the Austin area. “You've got to treat your people right. That's at least half of it.”
Mayfield says even with higher salaries and bonuses for longevity, the competition is fierce.
“We've actually lost people we didn't move quick enough to hire,” said Mayfield.
Economists are watching Austin's wage growth to see if the trend continues from the end of 2018 into 2019.