Why? Why Does the Media Routinely Lie About Worker Wages and Compensation?

The Wall Street Journal is excited:

American workers received their biggest pay raises in a nearly decade in the year to June, a sign the strong labor market and low unemployment is boosting wages as employers compete for scarcer workers. The employment-cost index, a measure of wages and benefits for civilian workers, rose 2.8% in the 12 months to June, the Labor Department said Tuesday. Wages and salaries, which account for about 70% of total compensation, also rose 2.8% from a year earlier. That marked the strongest gain for both measures since September 2008.

I am so tired of this shit I could croak. Unless I missed it because I was so annoyed, there’s not a single mention in the Journal story about what this “pay raise” looks like adjusted for inflation. So for your edification, here’s the ECI itself adjusted for inflation

It doesn’t really seem to be growing much lately, does it? Here’s another chart showing the year-over-year growth of the ECI adjusted for inflation:

Yep, you read that right: growth from June 2017 to June 2018 is a whopping 0.13 percent. That’s how much the average cost of employing someone has increased over the past year. That includes wages, health care, Social Security payments, office costs, pension benefits, etc. etc. It’s the whole enchilada. Total it up and it comes to 0.13%.

Does this mean that the “steady drumbeat of rising inflation continues”? I suppose, but you could simply put up a chart showing the inflation rate if that’s the point you wanted to make. Conversely, “U.S. Workers Get Biggest Pay Increase in Nearly a Decade” is just a straight lie by any measure. In fact, worker compensation increased at its lowest rate since 2014.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest