A Longterm View on Wages in the United States

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its March 2019 update on real wages in the United States on Wednesday.

Mnet 207011 Dollars

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its March 2019 update on real wages in the United States on Wednesday, reporting a -0.2 percent drop in real average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees compared to February and a 1.6 percent increase compared to March 2018. Denominated in constant 1982-1984 dollars, average hourly wages dropped from $9.40 in February to $9.38 in March, with average weekly earnings amounting to $315.98.

Since it’s hard to grasp the value of $9.38 in 1982 from today’s point of view, we took the liberty of calculating real wages in today’s prices and taking a look at what wages from 1964 onwards would be worth today. As the following chart shows, today’s wages in the United States are at a historically high level with average hourly earnings in March 2019 amounting to $23.24 in 2019 dollars. Coincidentally that matches the longtime peak of March 1974, when hourly wages adjusted to 2019 dollars amounted to exactly the same sum.

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