The US economy is booming — but not half fast enough for the masses of workers still waiting on a pay raise, or who are in financial straits, according to analysts.
Call them the other half.
Despite unemployment at a near 50-year low, a soaring stock market and the longest expansion in US history, the recovery hasn’t yet reached these millions in economic hard times, say these analysts.
Even as wages overall are rising, about 50 percent of US workers received no pay raises last year, according to Bankrate. And in real terms, some say average salaries are stagnant.
“Today’s average inflation-adjusted wage in America has the same purchasing power that it did in 1978,” Liam Hunt, a market analyst at SophisticatedInvestor.com, told The Post. “That’s despite macroeconomic growth in terms of GDP, salary increases for the highest bracket of income earners and rapidly rising home costs,” he added. “In a growing economy, we should see real wage growth, though we haven’t.”
While tax and regulatory reforms are widely credited by many for igniting jobs growth in this Trump-led recovery — and as minimum-wage mandates raise hourly rates — the ranks of low-wage workers are at record highs. Forty-four percent of American workers — or 53 million — earn low wages, according to Brookings Institution research.
“Many workers are getting left behind,” LDFS union organizer Megan Chambers told The Post last week, after a day on the picket lines for warehouse workers seeking a better deal at Target facilities in New Jersey. “It is disturbing to read about workers across the country in the gig economy, lucky to make a couple of hundred bucks a week without paid time off and a normal package of benefits,” she added. “And look at the conditions at Amazon warehouses — workers will tell you they are disposable, there is no stability, conditions are bad and turnover is high.”
Still, the US jobs juggernaut keeps rolling, defying expectations last month by producing 225,000 new positions. And the economy continues to grow: 2.3 percent last year, and 2.2 percent forecast for 2020 — hardly breathtaking, but enough to grease the wheels of expansion.
“Certainly, many middle-class and upper-class people continue to do well, and are increasing their income,” said Ryan McMaken, a senior editor at the Mises Institute. “But many households at the lower levels are only treading water.”
McMaken added that the lack of wage growth seen in some areas may be a case of prospering businesses not sharing the wealth with lower-earning workers.
The Great Recession never ended for millions of Americans, say critics. If anything, it might have taken a turn for the worse as US consumers borrow heavily, drowning in debt to keep up with household, student loans and other payments. Last month overall debt levels surged to a record of $14.15 trillion.
“You can say there are jobs, but there are a lot of low-quality jobs, either temp or part-time,” said Chambers. “There is a real problem out there.”
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