Wages of U.S. workers—adjusted for inflation—have finally eclipsed the peak reached in 1972.
The 1972 peak was eclipsed in 2020 partly because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Business boosted wages in the face of higher employee risks, with wages peaking in April 2020 but remaining above the 1972 mark in the months that followed.
Also note that:
- This milestone refers to average hourly wages for production and nonsupervisory workers in constant dollars—which adjusts for inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index and converts to latest-year dollars.
- Constant-dollar wages hit bottom in 1995 and have been trending higher with improving growth ever since.
- Wage growth in constant-dollar terms has been improving over the last three decades primarily because consumer price inflation has been easing over that time.
- Improvement in wage growth is not evident in current dollar or nominal terms, however. Growth in current dollars has been successively weaker over the past four decades.