Workers’ Wages Remain Stagnant Despite Gains to Top Earners

Labor News

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Reprinted from The Center for American Progress by Daniella Zessoules and Michael Madowitz on August 9, 2018.

The state of the US economy recently has become an increasingly partisan topic, but there are basic facts on which everyone can agree. The continued positive job growth and latest gross domestic product (GDP) growth numbers have brought about some excitement in the last few months. While these measures of progress are important, they reveal less about the health of the day-to-day economy that most workers experience. Real wages have been flat for most of the last decade—particularly since President Donald Trump took office.

To understand the health of the economy as workers see it, policymakers should look more closely at earnings—an indicator that shows the true progress, or lack thereof, facing many workers. …

Wages … have risen just 0.89 percent since January 2017—less than 1 percent real wage growth. For starters, this means that workers are not seeing the gains that they should. Despite the fact that the country is experiencing positive GDP growth, the benefits are not trickling down the way Trump predicted they would. In other words, the system in which the economy functions has not fairly nor equitably distributed wage gains to workers. This is hardly a new trend, but it is one that deserves more attention as the results of policies that move further in this direction emerge. …

Center for American Progress 8/9

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Jeff Burman represents assistant editors on the Guild’s Board of Directors. He can be reached at

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