Login

Real Hourly Earnings Scorecards: Employees Making Way Less Than 9 Months Ago

Hourly wages, in real terms, have been on the decline for nine months.

The BLS published its monthly report on Real Earnings today. The average employee is getting hammered because prices are rising faster than wages.

All employees

  • Real average hourly earnings for all employees were unchanged from March to April, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This result stems from a 0.1-percent increase in average hourly earnings being offset by a 0.2-percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).
  • Real average weekly earnings decreased 0.1 percent over the month due to no change in both real average hourly earnings and the average workweek.
  • Real average hourly earnings increased 0.2 percent, seasonally adjusted, from April 2017 to April 2018. The increase in real average hourly earnings combined with a 0.3-percent increase in the average workweek resulted in a 0.4-percent increase in real average weekly earnings over this period.

Production and nonsupervisory employees

  • Real average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees decreased 0.1 percent from March to April, seasonally adjusted. This result stems from a 0.2-percent increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.3-percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).
  • Real average weekly earnings increased 0.3 percent over the month due to the decrease in real average hourly earnings combined with a 0.3-percent increase in average weekly hours.
  • From April 2017 to April 2018, real average hourly earnings were unchanged, seasonally adjusted. Combining real average hourly earnings with a 0.3-percent increase in the average workweek resulted in a 0.3-percent increase in real average weekly earnings over this period.

Production Scorecard

Spend it Wisely

  • For the full year, the BLS reports production and supervisory workers make 0% more per hour than they did a year ago.
  • For the full year, the BLS reports all workers make 0.2% more per hour than they did a year ago. Spend it wisely.

Median Hourly Earnings

Average reports are a distortion because most of the increases tend to go to the top 10% of workers.

The BLS posts median wages on a lag. 2017 data will be posted in a month or so.

Meanwhile, please note that median hourly earnings are down 7 out of the last 11 years.

Try buying a house on that. And of course, houses are not even in the CPI.

I agree with Bam Man and CP Roberts who appear to look at the world realistically. We live in a very competitive world. Manufacturing, coal, steel etc have to compete to survive today, unlike 50 years ago. Unions have no leverage to get decent wages for unskilled labour anymore, with the exception of government. And even that is changing, as governments simply can’t afford to keep paying decent wages anymore. There is no point lamenting how the world has changed. Crying about it won’t put food on your table. If you want your children to have a decent middle class life (or better), make sure they develop a habit of lifelong learning, and acquire as much education and valuable skills as possible. No one is going to step in to pay high wages for unskilled labour anymore.

“In a typical display of cognitive dissonance, Mish warns that worker pay is dropping in one post and then cheers threats to unions in another. Yes Joe Sixpack should get up and get back to unionizing... worker pay falls when unions fail.”

Robbing men working productive jobs via taxes and debasement, in order to pay largely non productive taxfeeders more, don’t help “working men.” Just tax feeders. Who are getting raises on the back of “working men.”

I mean, who the heck do you think is creating the value some retired-at-45-erstwhile-shaker-down-of-jaywalking-teens is consuming at the rate of $150K/year, if not men doing productive work, aka working men? The toe fungus on Powell’s feet?

The only way for “working men” to benefit, is to let them keep more of the value they add via their work. Period. Which means, stop robbing them. Either directly via taxes, or indirectly via debasement; asset pumping and regulations driving up the cost of what they could buy with their earnings; regulations making it harder for them to apply their work at anything they see fit (as in building more houses in cities where slapping one together in a month or two could net them millions); or regulations making it harder for them, or anyone else, to set up shop directly competing for labor with their current employer.

Working (for completeness, including military) men will always be in the drivers’ seat in a free economy. As work is what is creating all wealth. Every penny of value consumed by anyone, is a penny of value that was created by a working man (or woman.) The only way for anyone else to get hold of it, is either to voluntarily trade for it, steal it, or have someone else steal it and hand it to them.

Remove as much of the latter two as possible, and you’re maximizing the take for working men. Any bizarre construct that enables non working men to take wealth from those workers who create it, to distribute as they see fit; can never benefit working men as a whole. As working men, by virtue of creating all value, are literally the only ones the wealth can ultimately be taken from.

“In a typical display of cognitive dissonance, Mish warns that worker pay is dropping in one post and then cheers threats to unions in another." Unions have driven jobs away. How much does an unemployed union worker make? Hollywood sent union jobs to Vancouver. These same producers vote democrat and give money to the Democratic Party. I once worked for a liberal TV producer, but he was adamantly against IATSE representing his workers. Union writers, who went on strike several years ago, often become producers and wind up sitting on the other side of the bargaining table. Their perspective changes.

More education isn't the answer. I have a PhD in Physics and an extremely high security clearance, and I have a lower standard of living than my in-laws do, or did, who graduated from high school, which for the Washington DC schools in those days (or now) is not saying alot. FIL was a mechanic, MIL worked a decade or two as a secretary. The number of employed engineers in this country is down 25% in the past decade. If the number of MDs and nurses was down by 25% would you conclude that everyone was alot healthier, or that something was seriously wrong. My PhD really isn't worth very much. Very little R&D is done in this country anymore, except the military industrial complex which is how I make my living. Unfortunately, the stuff I develop will be useless except in the event of WW III, where it will come in really handy for an hour or so. Anyway, if nothing is made in the US anymore, and if management can't see past the first quarter, no R&D will be done and education really won't help too much. Yeah, there will always be a demand for sys admins but nothing else. Grinding out more social social science and marketing grads, or, as things stand now, more scientists and engineers will add nothing to the economy.

Stories