Wages finally eclipse prior peak reached in 1972


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.



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