Haven’t read enough depressing news on the jobs front? Here’s another glum trend to glean from the August numbers: on average, even Americans who were employed made less money. The average hourly wage dropped $0.02, to $19.47 an hour, while weekly earnings dropped $2.61 to $654.86.
Economists note that this doesn’t mean wages will necessarily continue to fall: There are often erratic jumps in wage data from month to month. Wages made a comparatively large jump in July, rising $0.06 over the previous month. Compared with last year, the average wage has risen 1.8 percent, from $19.13 in August 2010. But that increase is nowhere near the pace of inflation, which rose 1.6 percent in 2010 but jumped to 3.6 percent in July, according to the Consumer Price Index.
Altogether, the summer’s job numbers reinforce a trend of stagnant wages in the face of rising costs, which has caused real mean income to drop sharply since the beginning of the recession. Here’s that trend in chart form, via the Economic Policy Institute: