23 thoughts on “Real Wages

  1. JohnH

    Yes, I agree. Real average hourly wages have risen since before the pandemic. I’m not disputing that. Would you care to tell us how much?

    According to FRED data from FREDBlog, the rise is 0.56% over almost 4 years. Is this something to celebrate after years of an extremely tight labor market?

    Also, the employment cost index: wages and salaries shows a decline since 4Q19.

    WTW’s industry survey of individual companies more closely mirrors the employment cost index.

    Whatever happened to Krugman (and others’) much hyped claim that a hot economy leads to higher wages? Sure, it happened in the few instances of extremely tight labor markets of the past. But as we know, past performance is no guarantee of future results. Time to start studying what really drives wages in the 21st century?

    1. pgl

      This from the troll who kept telling us real wages had fallen over this period? This from the troll who declared inflation over the last year (3.1%) was far higher than that 3.8% increase in nominal wages.

      We would ask little Jonny boy to correct his past false statements but that might take forever given how many times Jonny boy lies.

    2. pgl

      “Is this something to celebrate after years of an extremely tight labor market?”

      I guess our Village Idiot thinks we had a great labor market in 2020. Oh well little lying Jonny boy is still attacking Krugman for no other reason that little Jonny boy is stupid wherease Krugman is smart.

      1. JohnH

        In February, 2020 the unemployment rate was 3.5% and real weekly earnings had risen 6% over the preceding 4 years. Back then a tight labor market could arguably have caused a significant rise in real earnings. But pgl has the chutzpah to declare it a bad labor market!

        Today real weekly earnings have risen only 1.4% over the past 4 years. That represents the weakest gain of any tight labor market in the last forty years. Annualized, real earnings growth is almost exactly equal to the AVERAGE annual real earnings growth of the past forty years, which has commonly been characterized as a period of wage stagnation.

        Yet some want to hype real wage growth as a success story, meager as it is. Some want to claim that labor drove inflation by DEMANDING higher wages (guffaw, guffaw!,) And then they defend Krugman’s obviously bogus, unqualified claim that tight labor markets lead to real wage growth! LOL!!!
        An unsubstantiated assumption about how the economy works has been overtaken by events.

    3. pgl

      “WTW’s industry survey”

      I read what they wrote. You did not. Their piece noted how wages rose. But little Jonny boy keeps saying the opposite.

      Come on dude – if you are going to link to something – READ the damn thing.

      1. JohnH

        WTW used nominal wages. You’d think a genius like pgl would have noticed…oh, wait, pgl doesn’t know the difference between nominal and real.

        1. pgl

          I get that but so do you. I always note the inflation adjusted factor. But I guess my mentally retarded stalker never figured this out.

    4. Macroduck

      There he goes again.

      johnny, you are annoyingly dshonest about this stuff. “Much hyped claim”? You’ve been the one doing the hyping. Sheesh! You’ve been in another of your wrestling matches because pgl called you out for mischaracterizing what Krugman wrote. You brought it up.

      So, what’s your problem with the rise in real average hourly earnings? What’s your point?

      Folks, here’s the year-over-year % change in real average hourly earnings:


      Johnny is apparently outraged at the slow pace of gain. Outraged, I say! But why? Well, because he wants us to be outraged; that’s his agenda – U.S. BAD!!! Russia GOOD!!!

      Let’s compare recent performance to the prior cycle. We’re about 37 quarters into this expansion, and real average hourly earnings are up 0.9% from a year ago. At the same point in the prior expansion, real average hourly earnings were up 0.1% y/y. We’re well ahead of where we were at this point in the prior expansion.

      Now, this series is fairly recent, and we don’t have evidence for earlier cycles, but real wages are rising faster now than last time, which is what Krugman said. And there’s Johnn,y telling us the Nobel prize-winning economist is wrong. Because Johnny is sooooo good at economics.

      Regular readers here will remember that Johnny was once a big fan of median usual weekly real earnings, until it stopped saying what he wants it to say. That series is actually featured in Johnny’s link. Here’s median usual weekly real earnings along with real average hourly earnings:


      What do you know? Up 0.8% from a year ago, pretty much like real average hourly earnings. At this point in the prior expansion, median usual weekly real earnings were DOWN 0.6% y/y. And two cycles ago, median usual weekly real earnings were down 0.3% at this point in the expansion. So here, too, the data show that Krugman is right, Johnny is wrong. Just like always.

      By the way, Johnny’s link is from 2018, so don’t be fooled into thinking it has much to do with current circumstances. He tosses up links to gheive the impression that has a point. He doesn’t.

    5. pgl

      The FREDBlog post Jonny boy keeps abusing is dated Feb. 2018. The text never changes even as the graphs are updated. So this way little Jonny boy can make up any stupid interpretation he wants to.

      Come on Jonny boy – it was not a great blog post to begin with and it is almost 6 years old per the writing. Dude – you are so fine behind the adults in these discussions that no one gives a damn about what the eff you might say.

    6. pgl

      “the employment cost index: wages and salaries shows a decline since 4Q19.”

      Jonny boy provides no data. Let’s see if he can take this challenge. The nominal ECI rose by 17.2% since 2019Q4 according to BLS and FRED. Now I get Jonny boy and Brucie Hall thinks prices have risen over 20% which is what the lying Washington Examiner said but not quite right. Come on Jonny boy – dazzle us with your well renowned research skills. This should be a lot of fun.

  2. pgl

    Wolfers graph is very informative. The replies to his Twitter are decent points. Now if we could get ubertrolls like JohnH to pay attention and not make so many STUPID comments.

  3. Not Trampis

    Mister Chinn,
    My comment was made way earlier than other comments yet it did not appear. It seems my comment come on board with a lag. Perhaps that is what they deserve or I will organise an insurrection down under!!

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Not Trampis: Hmm. Don’t know. I usually approve in batches (when I can, in-between classes, meals, etc.) What is true is that my commments I write automatically post, while everybody else’s posts when I approve…

      Anyway, I don’t mean to delay your comments: you never use misogynistic/racist/homophobic language so you certainly should have your comments post when others are posted. And rest assured, I’m certainly not delaying them because of your disdain for SAAR.

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