Labor News – Jobs recovery hampered by wage disparity

Although the US economy is creating over 200,000 jobs per month, the numbers don’t bear out the fact that wages have not kept pace with inflation, specifically in lower-skilled professions.

According to an article in The Washington Post (Nov. 21, 2014), “Wages haven’t risen hand-in-hand with employment because the labor market isn’t back to full health, economists say. The United States still has enough job-seekers — and job-holders looking for different work — that employers have little incentive to boost wages and compete for talent.”

The report goes on to note that men, especially, are struggling because they have long been the flag-bearers for blue-collar, middle jobs–positions that are harder to find post-recession. Since the depth of the financial crisis in 2009, median weekly wages for full-time men have fallen 3.5 percent (adjusted for inflation), while wages for women have held steady, according to population survey data from the Labor Department.

The report cites the plight of one worker, Thomas Gray, who took a job in one of the nation’s fastest-growing industries, food services, preparing meals for 500 students in a Head Start cafeteria. But after two years of work, his salary had not budged, so his mother came out of retirement and took a job at United Way. Four more years have passed, and Gray is skipping bills to manage his expenses. During that time, his salary has risen 58 cents, to $11.70 per hour. But after taking into account the rising price of goods and services — inflation — he has taken a 6 percent pay cut.

For the entire Washington Post report, click here.