In Nebraska, a state with a 3.0% unemployment rate, Bryan Health, a Lincoln non-profit hospital, recently posted 200 job openings for cafeteria workers to respiratory therapists. On the same day the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the nation's unemployment rate sank below 5.1% for the 22nd straight month. Surprisingly, this "white hot" labor market, has yet to push wage growth above a snail's pace.
The U.S. economy exited the 2007-09 recession in July 2009. Since then, U.S. workers, on average, have only increased their inflation-adjusted salaries by $1,000, slightly less than 2%. Notably, wages and salaries of American workers, adjusted for inflation, have actually declined for 10 of 23 occupations.
Who were the big losers?
Between 2009 and 2016 annual inflation adjusted pay fell for:
**Architects and engineers by$6,074 or 7.4%.
**Lawyers by $8,578 or 5.9%.
**Social workers by $2,976 or 5.9%.
Who were the big winners?
**Between 2009 and 2016 yearly inflation adjusted pay climbed for:
**Computer programmers by $10,483 or 14.0%
**Welders by $5,824 or 16.0%.
**Registered nurses by $5,636 or 8.4%.
More Vocational Skills Needed
Between 2001 and 2009, compounded annually, worker productivity, or output per hour, expanded yearly by 2.6% and wages climbed by 3.1%. From 2009 to 2016, productivity growth dropped to an annual compound rate of 0.9% and wage growth fell to an annual compound rate of 1.9%.
In order to expand wages at an acceptable pace, workers and industry need an increase in vocational skill levels. Whether it is truck driving, welding or plumbing, a higher percentage of American workers and industry need to upgrade their skill levels obtainable with on-the-job training or community college classes.