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America Inc. Wakes Up to Wage Inflation

Wall Street Journal (06/20/14) Justin Lahart

Although the unemployment rate fell to 6.3% in May from 7.5% a year ago, the percentage of working-age Americans out of the labor force has climbed to 37.2% from 34.0% when the recession started, with workers unlikely to return to the job market because they are nearing retirement or their skills have eroded. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen said recently that she will know the labor market is tightening when wages rise more rapidly, but that has not happened yet, with average hourly wages up only 2.1% in May and less when adjusted for inflation.

However, chief financial officers polled by Duke University and CFO Magazine anticipate a 3.0% increase in wages and salaries over the next 12 months, up from 2.5% in June 2013, and a 1.9% boost in their workforces, up from 0.8% a year ago. To pay for the expansion in their workforces, respondents said prices will rise 2.6% over the next year, up from the 1.5% they forecast a year ago.