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Sat Jan 12, 2019, 10:09 PM

Did you get a pay raise in 2018? This explains why you still feel broke

Even if the economy is on a roll, many Americans aren’t feeling the benefit.

Real wages effectively declined in 2018, according to figures from the PayScale Index, a formula from the Seattle-based salary comparison site. PayScale said the median wage increases, when adjusted for inflation, were only 1.1% since last year and 1% over the past year. “However, the modest uptick in nominal wages failed to bring real wages out of the red for the year,” it said.

In fact, when adjusted for cost of living increases, real wages actually declined 1.3% since the end of 2017, PayScale found.

That runs counter to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data, which showed an annual increase of 3.2% in average hourly earnings in December, but that’s before accounting for inflation. The PayScale data also stand in contrast to otherwise encouraging news about the labor market. The U.S. unemployment rate remained near a 49-year low of 3.9% in December.

PayScale looks at median, not average wages, “so outlier growth doesn’t bias the results,” though it does not dispute the results of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “A decline in real wages means the average person can purchase even less today than they could last year when wages are measured against inflation,” said Katie Bardaro, chief economist at PayScale.


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