Workers in these two industries are the only ones emerging right now

But in reality, only employees in two industries — leisure and hospitality and retail — emerge even when inflation is taken into account.

In general, wages and salaries of private sector workers increased according to an analysis of quarterly Employment Cost Index data by Jason Furman, an economics professor at Harvard University, up 4.2% between December 2019 and last June, before considering rising prices.

However, if inflation is taken into account, paychecks have actually shrunk by 1.2% over that period, the analysis shows.

US consumer prices rose 9.1% year-on-year in June, the highest level in more than 40 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Workers have had more bargaining power to get higher wages, but companies have also had the power to set higher prices,” said Furman, also a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama administration. “And prices beat wages.”

Where wages rise

Leisure and hospitality workers, including waiters, cooks and hotel clerks, are in high demand after they were hit hard by job cuts when non-essential businesses were forced to close amid the onset of the pandemic. Their wages have increased 0.9% since December 2019, taking inflation into account, according to Furman’s analysis.

While the overall economy has now regained all of the jobs it lost during the pandemic, the leisure and hospitality sector is still 1.2 million positions, or 7.1 percent, below its February 2020 level, according to the monthly jobs report from the company. Bureau of Labor Statistics, published. Friday.

Retail workers such as salespeople, cashiers and customer service representatives have also been courted by employers. This has resulted in an inflation-adjusted wage increase of 0.2% for them. Employment in this sector is 208,000 above the February 2020 level.

But even workers in these industries have seen their wage increases erode this year as inflation continues to rise. Pay increases for leisure and hospitality workers and for retail employees were 2% and 1.2% respectively for the two years ending December 2021.

Employers in lower-wage industries really needed to raise wages to hire and retain the workforce needed to meet demand in 2021, said Skanda Amarnath, executive director of Employ America, which advocates for a high-wage economy. and high employment.

“Right now the CPI is just way too strong compared to everything else,” he said of the consumer price index, a popular inflation measure.

And where they fall

In all other sectors, inflation-adjusted wages have fallen since the end of 2019, led by utilities with a decline of 2.7%.

Construction and information technology workers saw their paychecks rise 1.8%, while workers in manufacturing and financial sectors experienced a 1.7% decline.

Even wholesale workers, such as truck drivers, who were also in high demand during the pandemic when supply chains snapped, have lost ground. Their wages have fallen by 0.6% since December 2019. That is a reversal from the end of 2021, when their wages had increased by 0.1% in the past two years.

The Employment Cost Index report is being closely monitored by the Federal Reserve to monitor how far skyrocketing inflation is pushing wages. The data helps the Fed determine how much to raise interest rates.

But the Fed is looking at wage growth before the impact of inflation, and it has remained strong. The 5.3% jump for the year ended June was the highest since the spring of 1983.

So despite the decline in inflation-adjusted wages in most industries, the Fed is expected to continue raising interest rates this year to try to slow the price rise, economists say.

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