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Biggest pay raises over 30 years

Over the last generation, pay for some professions has risen much faster than the overall rate of inflation.


fastest growing wages clergy
  • 1983 median wage: $16,432*
  • 2012 median wage: $46,540
  • Increase: 183%

The rise in pay for clergy may be explained by the rise of megachurches over the last few decades, which tend to have larger budgets and compete for pastors from smaller congregations.

Attrition rates are also high in the field, with as much as 85% of clergy leaving the profession after five years, said Randy Kanipe, a Senior Pastor Watkinsville First United Methodist in Georgia.

"There is an increasing shortage of clergy among all denominations," said Kanipe.

Clergy also tend to be one of the most highly educated of all professions, and it's possible their wages have risen in response to the soaring cost of higher education.

Plus, in the early 1980s many clergy were granted living quarters as part of their compensation package, which may not have shown up in wage surveys, said Emily Click, a minister and professor at the Harvard Divinity School. That has since changed, said Click, as parishes realized that not letting clergy build home equity was locking them into poverty. Salaries may have risen to account for housing costs.

Source: CNN analysis of 45 professions in the Current Population Survey, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Note: *Numbers are not inflation adjusted. Overall inflation from 1983-2012 was 131%
Some professions with high wage inflation, such as chief executives and personal financial advisers, were not tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1983, and are excluded from this list.

  @hargreavesCNN - Last updated November 08 2013 03:37 AM ET

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