Paying for Productivity

One of the US economy's defining – and disheartening – trends over the last 40 years has been real-wage stagnation for most workers. America’s long-run living standards and economic competitiveness depend not just on productivity growth, but also on how that growth is shared.

BERKELEY – One of the United States’ defining – and disheartening – economic trends over the last 40 years has been real-wage stagnation for most workers. According to a recent US Census report, the median full-time male worker earned $50,033 in 2013, barely distinguishable from the comparable (inflation-adjusted) figure of $49,678 in 1973.

Because most households earn the bulk of their income from their labor, the absence of real-wage growth is a major factor behind the stagnation of family incomes. The average family income of the bottom 90% of households has been flat since about 1980. Real family income for the median household in 2013 was 8% below its 2007 level and nearly 9% below its 1999 peak.

Stagnating middle-class wages and family incomes are a major factor behind the US economy’s slow recovery from the 2007-2009 recession, and pose a serious threat to long-term growth and competitiveness. Household consumption accounts for more than two-thirds of aggregate demand, and consumption growth depends on income growth for the bottom 90%.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/PwJlhud;