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?

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In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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