Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

50 years of US wages, in one chart

Morning commuters are seen outside the New York Stock Exchange, July 30, 2012. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR35NPI

Wage worries? Image: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Felix Richter
Data Journalist, Statista
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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its March 2019 update on real wages in the United States on Wednesday, reporting a -0.2 percent drop in real average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees compared to February and a 1.6 percent increase compared to March 2018. Denominated in constant 1982-1984 dollars, average hourly wages dropped from $9.40 in February to $9.38 in March, with average weekly earnings amounting to $315.98.

Since it’s hard to grasp the value of $9.38 in 1982 from today’s point of view, we took the liberty of calculating real wages in today’s prices and taking a look at what wages from 1964 onwards would be worth today. As the following chart shows, today’s wages in the United States are at a historically high level with average hourly earnings in March 2019 amounting to $23.24 in 2019 dollars. Coincidentally that matches the longtime peak of March 1974, when hourly wages adjusted to 2019 dollars amounted to exactly the same sum.

Image: Statista
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Equity, Diversity and InclusionEconomic Growth
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