Are Wages Finally Going Up? Sure, For Some People.

Are wages finally going up? Let’s skip the anecdotal nonsense, shall we? Here are the numbers since the end of the Great Recession:

GDP per capita has gone up 1.5 percent per year since 2009, accelerating to 2 percent over the past year. That’s not bad. America is getting richer, and over the past year has gotten richer at a faster pace.

But it’s a different story for nonsupervisory workers, who make up 70 percent of the labor force. Their earnings have gone up 0.7 percent per year since 2009, accelerating decelerating to 0.6 percent in the past year. This includes the broad working and middle classes, but doesn’t include the college-educated upper middle classes and the rich.

From a macro point of view, wages are finally picking up some steam. That suggests some labor tightness and it’s something for the Fed to consider when they set interest rates. But for all the ordinary working stiffs, 2017 has been a pretty meh kind of year. All those extra riches are going someplace else.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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