Q3 Ends With Workers Getting Anemic 0.4% Raise

The Washington Post reports fabulous news:

U.S. workers are seeing the largest wage increase in a decade, the Labor Department reported Wednesday….The typical worker received a 2.9 percent raise from September 2017 to September 2018, according to the Labor Department’s Employment Cost Index, a widely watched measure of pay….Sluggish pay growth has been one of the biggest problems in this recovery, but employers are finally having to hike wages at a more normal level typically seen during good economic times. Unemployment is at a 49-year low and there are more job openings than unemployed Americans, which forces companies to fight for available workers.

I am so tired of this shit I could scream. Is it a deliberate lie? Is it because news reporters don’t understand what inflation is? Is it because they take any opportunity to report that something is the biggest, largest, heaviest, or best?

I don’t know. But if you want to know how much wages and earnings have gone up over the year you have to adjust for inflation. FFS. How hard is that? And when you do, here’s what you get:

This is not the largest wage increase in a decade. It’s not even the largest wage increase in the past year. Or the past two years. Or the past three years. Or anytime at all.

What it is, is a fairly anemic 0.4 percent increase in wages over the past year. That’s better than nothing, but it’s nothing to write home about, especially when employment is supposedly tight and the economy is supposedly expanding like a rocket. In fact, the real question to ask when you see something like this is not: Wow, workers are doing well. It’s: If workers are hardly getting anything, then who’s getting all the extra money the economy is generating?

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate