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Wages Are Growing 2.3%, but Your Paycheck Probably Isn’t

Wages Are Growing 2.3%, but Your Paycheck Probably Isn’t Wall Street Journal (12/04/15) Eric Morath Average hourly earnings advanced 2.3% in November from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That pace has roughly been maintained over the past two years. The trend of steady wage gains has coincided with the addition of an average of 234,000 jobs per month since November 2013, marking a clear acceleration in the expansion of the economy compared with earlier numbers. However, the wage improvements were not spread evenly across industries. Middle-class jobs, such as those in manufacturing, transportation, education, and health services, are growing at a substandard pace, while wage gains at the high and low ends of the spectrum are growing much faster. The strongest wage gains have occurred in utilities, up 7.7% over the past two years. Wage gains in information are up 6.5% over two years, reflecting a strong demand for technology-focused workers. Wages in the leisure and hospitality sectors—mainly restaurant workers—also are up 6.5%. Retail wages are up 5.6%, reflecting both a tightening on the low end of the labor market and minimum-wage increases put in place in many states. Manufacturing wages are up 3.7% over two years, while in the transportation and warehousing sector wages are up 1.5%.