I gathered three different data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that could be useful to look at. First is the consumer price index, which tells us the rate of inflation, i.e. the proportion at which the cost of living has gone up. It stands at 3.4% over the one year period (November 2010-November 2011) with certain fields having above average inflation, such as medical care or education (for more details, more research would be necessary). Second, I looked at labor productivity which over a one year period has increased by 0.9%, accounting for an increase in output by 2.4% and an increase in hours by 1.4%. Finally, I looked at the development of wages, which has fallen by 1.5% over the one-year period.
So to sum it up: whereas the prices have gone up (3.4%) and productivity has gone up (0.9%) warranting a theoretical increase in wages, wages have actually decreased by 1.5%. What the numbers express (for all those who are confused about them) is simple: whereas more workers are unemployed than before, and those that do work contribute more, they get paid less, and since inflation is way above the wage loss workers are screwed by being able to afford less goods and services necessary for subsistence.
“The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) was unchanged in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 3.4 percent before seasonal adjustment.”
“Nonfarm business sector labor productivity increased at a 2.3 percent annual rate during the third quarter of 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today, with output and hours worked rising 3.2 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively. (All quarterly percent changes in this release are seasonally adjusted annual rates.) From the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2011, output increased 2.4 percent as hours rose 1.4 percent, resulting in a 0.9 percent increase in productivity. (See tables A and 2.) Labor productivity, or output per hour, is calculated by dividing an index of real output by an index of hours worked of all persons, including employees, proprietors, and unpaid family workers.”
“Real average hourly earnings for all employees fell 0.1 percent from October to November, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This decrease stems from a 0.1 percent decrease in average hourly earnings, while in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) remained unchanged.
Real average weekly earnings fell 0.1 percent over the month, as a result of the decrease in real average hourly earnings combined with the unchanged average workweek. Since reaching a peak in October 2010, real average weekly earnings have fallen 1.7 percent.
Real average hourly earnings fell 1.5 percent, seasonally adjusted, from November 2010 to November
2011. A 0.3 percent increase in the average workweek, combined with the decline in real average hourly earnings, resulted in a 1.2 percent decrease in real average weekly earnings during the same period.”