Bill Knight column for Thurs., Fri., or Sat., April 25, 26, or 27
Another slap in the face could snap us out of a shock, or it could just add another bruise or callous to the head. And heart.
The median level for weekly earnings for Americans in management, professional and related occupations during the first quarter of 2013 was $1,136, according to an April 18 report from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Apart from the dollar amount, their 2.6% increase from 2012 meant that they actually did better than increases in the cost of living.
By 3/10ths of 1%.
Inflation in Illinois was up 2.3% since 2012, according to BLS’ Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Median weekly earnings for all the 102 million full-time wage and salary workers in the country were $773 in the first three months of this year, BLS shows. “Median” is the midpoint, with an equal number of amounts above and below that figure.
Overall, U.S. workers’ pay improved 0.5% while the Consumer Price Index went up 1.7% over the same period.
Service jobs now have a median of $501 a week (a 2.3% improvement from a year ago, exactly keeping pace with inflation); jobs in production, transportation, etc. made a median of $622/week (up just 0.48%); construction and similar work paid at the median of $738 a week (down – yes, down – 0.8% from 2012).
Inflation is relatively moderate, but that’s compared to other periods of inflation. When it’s 2.3% and pay is changing less than that, it’s not moderate.
It means, of course, that workers are falling behind.
The increases in the CPI reported in March were mostly driven by energy (+7.0% from a year earlier), motor fuel (+7.5%), and utility (piped) gas (+12.1%), according to BLS’ data for Illinois.
Maybe most startling, when the Labor Department measures median weekly earnings in “constant dollars” (comparing the value of dollars to 1982, taking in to account inflation over those 30 years), the median weekly earning for everyday workers now is $301 in those 1982 dollars – the same as the first quarter of 2004.
Yes, in nine years, U.S. workers’ income has literally stagnated.
Back to current dollars, age and experience offer some advantages, but that also means younger and entry-level workers have it very tough.
While median weekly earnings overall are $773, they’re $459 for 16 to 24 year olds, $816 for 25-54 year olds, $891 for 55 to 64 year olds, and $745 for 65 years and up.
Is it too much to expect for Americans who do the work to share in the results of their labor?
Is it too much for U.S. workers to insist?
Will Americans wake up?
Or be knocked out?
[PICTURED: Konopacki cartoon, from Workers Independent News]