During the past 12 months, some 95 million working Americans, representing 82 percent of the workforce, received real wage gains, according to the National Association of Manufacturers’ Annual Labor Day Report, and manufacturing workers led the pack earning 30 percent more than the average wage for the private sector workforce.
“This marks the broadest gain in real wages since 2000 when 95 percent of the workforce experienced real wage gains,” said NAM Chief Economist David Huether. “In fact, during the past 12 months only three industry sectors experienced declines in real wages - retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and utilities.”
Huether said the rise in real incomes “could not have come at a more opportune time. During the past few years, homeowners used rising home equity values to finance consumer purchases. Now, with housing prices on the decline, home equity borrowing has evaporated.”
The NAM economist cited two other factors that have partially offset the housing downturn - an improvement in the balance of trade, due to strong economic growth overseas and a more competitive dollar, and strong growth in business investment, particularly structures. But he cautioned that job growth has slowed over the past year compared to the same period a year ago.
“Private sector employment has grown by just 1.6 million over the past 12 months,” Huether said. “This is half a million fewer jobs than were created this time last year, and the slowest pace in nearly three years.”
Huether said the average yearly compensation for a full time worker in manufacturing rose to $68,860, compared to an average of $53,500 in the rest of the private sector workforce, in large measure because modern manufacturing demands advanced skills and training. “The challenge of finding qualified workers is not just a cyclical annoyance, but rather a serious long-term problem,” he said, adding that manufacturers ranked finding qualified workers second only to health care as a major concern.
The full text of the Annual Labor Report from the National Association of Manufacturers.