Report: Most not seeing real wage gains
Employee pay lowest share of GDP since 1947, when government started tracking data. Corporate profits highest share of GDP since the 1960s.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Most workers have not seen wage gains keep pace with inflation during the current economic expansion, the first time that has happened since World War II, according to a published report.
The New York Times reports that the median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. Median wages are the point at which equal numbers of workers earn more and less.
The paper reports that while average family income, adjusted for inflation, has continued to advance at a good clip, that has been helped by gains by the top wage earners.
The paper says that about nine out of 10 workers have seen inflation that has outpaced their pay increases over the last three years, according to the Labor Department. That includes workers earning up to $80,000 a year, a level that puts them in the 90th percentile of wage earners.
The paper reports that with employment gains softening in recent months, inflationary pressures stay high due to factors such as high energy prices, so the gap between wages and prices could increase for many workers.
The paper reports that the gap between the top wage earners and other workers is growing. It cites research from economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty that showed that in 2004, the top 1 percent of earners --a group that includes many chief executives --received 11.2 percent of all wage income, up from 8.7 percent a decade earlier and less than 6 percent three decades ago.
In addition, corporate profits are growing more quickly than wages and salaries. Employee pay now makes up the lowest share of the nation's gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, according to the paper, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960s.