Good News: Labor Compensation Is Finally Starting to Rise

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When I was making a case this morning that America is actually in pretty good shape, probably the biggest pushback I got was about wages. And I agree that on the economic front, that’s still our biggest problem. Unemployment is relatively low, but thanks to modest GDP growth and the long-term unemployed continuing to re-enter the workforce, the labor market hasn’t been tight enough to push wages up.

Still, the news isn’t entirely bad on this front. Cash wages remain pretty sluggish, but total compensation has risen nicely over the past five quarters. If this keeps up—and if health care costs continue to rise slowly—this will start to spill over into hourly wages. There are still plenty of things that could go wrong, and the weak growth of middle class wages remains our biggest long-term challenge, but there’s at least a glimmer of hope on this front. We may finally be truly starting to recover from the Great Recession.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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