Why Aren’t Wages Increasing?

Some of my readers are probably sick of me saying that our economy is bad. I’m very good at stating the obvious, apparently. Unemployment is high, gas costs are high (like I talked about last week), and the cost of living is becoming harder and harder to meet. Sometimes we get some little bits of relief, but we haven’t seen a lot of economic recovery in quite a long while.

Economists put a lot of focus on the unemployed when talking about the economy, and with good reason. People being unemployed negatively affects the economy because they are not getting money and, because they aren’t getting money, they’re not putting more money into the economy to fix it.

What if you’re working? Sure, the high costs of things definitely affect your wallet; I talked to a friend the other day who is picking up a third job because she just can’t make ends meet with all of her bills and such. But, the biggest strain comes when those prices increase, but your income doesn’t.

Many people in the United States are getting the same wages that they were earning a short while ago. Statistics say that the private sector wage average has gone from $23.12 an hour to $23.52 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a mere 40 cents, which really isn’t much of a difference at all when other years have seen an increase of a dollar or so. It’s barely moving at the same rate as inflation, which is risky; if wages don’t increase with inflation, then the number of people struggling for cash continues to rise, even among the employed.

The biggest reason for this? Surprise! Unemployment. The unemployment rate is high because there are jobs out there, but those jobs are only in certain fields that many people don’t have training in. Have you ever realized how many nursing jobs there are? Exactly my point. But, how does unemployment affect people who are working?

If there aren’t jobs out there for people to potentially get, an employer doesn’t have to do things like adjust benefits or wages in order to keep you as an employee. It seems kind of cruddy, but it’s true. Employers are depending more on the fact that the job market is poor instead of giving you incentive to stay. They don’t need to do anything to keep you in order to keep you when there’s very little in your field out there.

Also, another factor is that most job growth is in low wage jobs, fast food and retail in particular. They don’t give much in terms of raises anyway; I worked at McDonald’s in high school for 3 years and got an extra 21 cents in the three years I was there. That’s pretty standard from what I’ve heard.

What do you think about all of this? Do you think that employers should still be giving raises even though you don’t have a lot of job options? Do you think unemployment really has that much of an impact on the wages of the currently employed? Share some thoughts in the comments, have a great week, and we’ll see you back here next week!

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