American workers have been receiving meager pay increases for so long now that it’s reasonable to talk in sweeping terms about the trend. It is the great wage slowdown of the 21st century.
The typical American family makes less than the typical family did 15 years ago, a statement that hadn’t previously been true since the Great Depression. Even as the unemployment rate has fallen in the last few years, wage growth has remained mediocre. Last week’s jobs report offered the latest evidence: The jobless rate fell below 6 percent, yet hourly pay has risen just 2 percent over the last year, not much faster than inflation. The combination has puzzled economists and frustrated workers.
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