On March 10, the Labor Department published its 12 months Consumer Price Index, reporting that the US annual inflation rate reached 7.9% (Fig. 1). As alarming as the new numbers may be, they come at no surprise. The economy has been heating up for a while now. The war in Ukraine is having an impact. But labor constraints are the main inflationary culprits – according to a new working research paper by Alex Domash & Lawrence Summers (Harvard University). They write: “Our results, along with a cursory analysis of labor force participation information, suggest that labor market tightness is likely to contribute significantly to inflationary pressure in the United States for some time to come”. Labor shortages contribute to wage increases across the board, benefiting employees at all income rungs. Alas, new numbers released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta suggest that white collar wages increases are outpacing everyone else (Fig 2). 

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Figure 1: Consumer Price Index, 12 months change (Source: Labor Department)

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Figure 2: Median hourly wages, change from a year earlier, 12-month moving average (Source: Federal Bank of Atlanta)

Analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (by the Indeed website) suggest that although lower wage employees gained over 10% increase in wages in the past 12 months, this increase is rapidly eroding. The data also suggest that wage growth of higher income earners is fast outfacing everyone else (Fig. 3). 

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Figure 3: Average hourly earnings by industry wage tier, three-month annualized growth rate (Source: Indeed analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data)

Are similar trends observed within the CRM industry? Given the small size of the sector and lack of longitude data, hard data is difficult to come by. But analysis of 304 job postings from Sep 2021 to Feb 2022 suggest some emerging patterns.

Nationwide, Field Tech hourly wages increased by only 3.5% during these six months, way below the 10% national average for low wage employees. Crew Chief hourly wages increased by 19% and PI/PM hourly wages increased by a whopping 25% (Fig. 4). By early 2022, at least three CRM companies published PI positions with annual salaries in the six figures (Burns & McDonnell’s, WSP and the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands). This compared with only one entity publishing a PI position with a six figure salary in Sep-Dec, 2021 (Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands). 

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Figure 4: Average wage increases by job type, Sep 2021-Mar 2022 (Source: Twin Cairns)

Wages differ dramatically by region. The highest average wages are offered in the Northeast and lowest in the Midwest (Fig 5). There are too few data points to track wage evolution by region (see our attempt in Fig. 6). Although 159 Field Tech job postings were identified, only 70 included wage information. The data suggest that Field Tech wages are increasing in the Southeast and Southwest, and that they are high, but stagnant in the West. Again, these patterns are based on very low number of data points so are likely unreliable.


Field Tech

Crew Chief


Mid Atlantic




























Figure 5: Regional hourly wage statistics, Sep 2021-Feb 2022 (Source: Twin Cairns)










Mid Atlantic







Sep 21







Oct 21






Nov 21







Dec 21





Jan 22






Feb 22




Figure 6: Field Tech average wage per hour by region & month (Source: Twin Cairns)

Given the rapid growing rate of inflation, it seems that the CRM sector is adjusting wages at the upper rungs but not at the middle or lower rungs. As more projects & jobs are coming to the sector, as the number of Field Techs trained in field schools is declining (few field schools operated in the past two years), and as wages increase much faster outside the sector, hard times coming to the CRM sector.

If companies will not be able to recruit and retain employees at all rungs, they will not be able to deliver service to clients in reasonable time or competitive costs. That will push clients to demand reduction in mandatory compliance requirements at both the federal and state levels and will undermine efforts to preserve our shared heritage for future generations. With 1,300 companies, the fragmentary nature of the CRM sector makes it challenging to increase prices for billable hours. This will not be an easy challenge to overcome. 

Twin Cairns Wins Prestigious award

The Environmental Business Journal awarded Twin Cairns its 2021 Project Merit Award. The award recognizes our job board website designed exclusively for the environmental consulting sector and cite the many innovations we bring to the sector. 

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Hiring Employees? Published your Job Posting on Twin Cairns – it is Free!

Twin Cairns if offering a cutting edge website, ease of use and instant streaming of all jobs posted on the site to our Facebook and Twitter account. Our Skills Log Matrix™ allows you to curate the exact job requirements you need – chose from 54 pre-listed skills. And best of all, it is now free for the next six months.


Instructions: Get Free 6 Months of Enterprise Level Access to Twin Cairns

  • Go to the Twin Cairns website and click on Register to create an account. Remember to select the proper registration type – you should register as an Employer

  • Create a Company Profile (for companies)

  • Post your first Job

  • When sent to the Payment Page, enter “Free6for2022” at the coupon area – top left corner of the page. Continue as normal, your balance will be set at $0. 
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