According to the NYTimes, real wages fail to match the increase in productivity:
The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.
As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as “the golden era of profitability.”
Until the last year, stagnating wages were somewhat offset by the rising value of benefits, especially health insurance, which caused overall compensation for most Americans to continue increasing. Since last summer, however, the value of workers’ benefits has also failed to keep pace with inflation, according to government data.
At the very top of the income spectrum, many workers have continued to receive raises that outpace inflation, and the gains have been large enough to keep average income and consumer spending rising.
Good thing Congress has been able to give itself a raise for the last few years, huh? I mean, with their comprehensive benefits package and all, they would barely be able to hold cocktail parties without an annual raise.
Oh, except this year, Democrats have vowed that they will block any Congressional pay raise without a corresponding increase in the minimum wage for working Americans. So we are at a stalemate at the moment, meanwhile working Americans are still getting squeezed because the GOP will not enact any legislation to help the working poor without tacking on a benefits package for large estates and other goodies for the very rich.
PS — Happy birthday Anne!