Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 :::

Over the past year, consumer prices have climbed 3.4 percent, a slowdown from November's 3.5 percent 12-month inflation rate but still above the annual rise in average weekly earnings -- meaning consumer incomes are not keeping pace with rising prices.
Every time I see the statement that real wages haven't risen in the past couple years, I'm surprised for the amount of time it takes me to realize that "wages" include only cash paid out, and excludes benefits.

The latest payrolls release indicates that weekly income has increased from $536.74 to $551.67 in the past year, i.e. by 2.8%. Hours per week must be down slightly, because hourly income is up from $15.88 to $16.37, or 3.1%. In any case, these are similar figures, both slightly below the 3.4% quoted above. Labor cost numbers, at least from the productivity report, are less up-to-date — new ones should be coming out soon, but they only come out once a quarter, largely because the figures from that report that most interest people (productivity and unit labor costs) are hard to measure with enough precision to see anything month-to-month. In any case, in units of their index, employment costs per unit time worked (compare this to the hourly wage, not the weekly one) went from 158.2 to 166.0 from 3rd quarter to 3rd quarter, or an increase of 4.9%; essentially, the value of the benefits provided has increased faster than wages.

One frequent reason for this — and it's been true for quite a while, particularly in the public sector — is that the cost of health care has been rising faster than other costs; the appropriate inflation measure against which to compare wages would exclude the health care costs that aren't paid out of wages. According to this morning's release, however, inflation this past year with health care costs backed out runs very nearly the same as overall consumer inflation; the discrepancy must be coming from somewhere else this time.

(This is all on top of normal well-known problems with inflation measures that cause them to overstate actual inflation. I won't rehash those issues here.)

::: posted by dWj at 8:47 PM

Comments: Post a Comment

Comment Policy

Dollars and Jens
Steven's web-site

Kitchen Cabinet
Colby Cosh
The Volokh Conspiracy
The Corner
The Bleat from James Lileks
Tim Blair
Daily Ablution
Mickey Kaus
Dave Barry
How Appealing
Virginia Postrel
Reason's "Hit and Run"
Captain's Quarters
Roger L. Simon
Power Line
IWF's InkWell
Blogs for Bush
Chetly Zarko
Signifying Nothing
Cosmo Macero
Hub Blog
Ex Parte from Harvard Law's Federalists
Harvard CR blog
Priorities & Frivolities
Daley News
Emil Levitin
Politica Obscura
Wave Maker
Town Watch
Worcester County Repubs

Election '08
Don't Vote
Dave Barry
John McCain

Other Sites of Note
Townhall columnists Cambridge Republican City Committee
Cambridge Chronicle
Robert Winters
Boston Herald
Boston Globe
Boston Metro
Channel 5
Commonwealth Mag
Fox News
Massachusetts Republican Assembly
Robert Benchley Society

U.S. Constitution
9/11 commission report [7 Meg PDF]
Iraq Survey Group report
Fahrenheight 9/11 deceits


Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

Powered by Blogger