Wednesday, 17 of October of 2018

Economics. Explained.  

Average Hourly Earnings

October 5, 2018

Average  hourly earnings rose 0.3% in September to $27.24 after having risen 0.3% in August.  Hourly earnings are gradually rising.  During the past year hourly earnings have risen 2.8%.  This series would be growing more quickly except for the impact from retiring baby boomers.  When you lose a number of people who have been working for 40 years who are making high wages, and replace them by younger workers who are making much less, this series will have a downward bias.  The Atlanta Fed has a series called “wage tracker” in which it tries to adjust for this bias and it believes that wages are currently rising at a 3.5% pace.  This series has been growing somewhat more quickly than the official hourly earnings data and, therefore, seems more consistent with the apparent tightness in the labor market.

In addition to their hourly wages workers can also work overtime hours.  Increases in their total income are captured by the increase in weekly earnings.  Weekly earnings rose 0.3 in both August and September.  Weekly wages have risen 3.4% during the course of the past year.

While there has been a lot of discussion about the lack of growth in wages, they appear to be rising a bit more quickly and are able to support a moderate sustained 2.5% pace of consumer spending.

Stephen Slifer


Charleston, SC



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