News by VICE

This is how the economy should work

by Matt Phillips
Nov 4 2016, 9:00am

It’s happening. Seriously.

According to new numbers released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly earnings for all private-sector employees rose 2.8 percent in October compared to the same month last year. That’s the fastest annual pace of wage increases since the U.S. economy climbed out of the Great Recession. Here’s what that looks like.

The unemployment rate dropped back to 4.9 percent in October, compared to 5.0 percent the previous month, as the economy generated 161,000 new jobs.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a blip. The U.S. economy has now created jobs for 73 straight months, the longest streak on record. And the rise in wages is consistent with other indications that after a particularly rough recession, compensation is finally starting to go up for American workers.

We see it in the statistics. For example, recently released numbers showed U.S. median household income rose 5.2 percent in 2015, the largest annual jump on record going back to the late 1960s.

And we see it in the news, whether it’s last year’s pay increases announced by giant employers like Wal-Mart, Starbucks, and JPMorgan Chase, or the new round of minimum wage proposals that are on the ballot in both blue and red states.

No, we haven’t quite entered a new golden age for American workers. But this is real progress.