Grinch America steps up a tad on workers’ wages

Recent signs suggest worker pay is finally rising after years of stagnation despite an economy that has been steadily chugging along since 2009. The latest jobs report from the Labor Department shows that low unemployment is pushing up wages a bit. Employers added 200,000 jobs in January and private-sector workers, on average, saw their paychecks increase nearly 3 percent, compared to a year earlier.

The change was a long time coming, and no doubt most workers won’t find the modest bump much to crow about. Policy makers and good corporate citizens still have a lot of ground left to recover. For starters, the great bulk of hourly workers averaged only a 2.4 percent gain, as the increases for the salaries of managers contributed to the overall findings.

And our readers might remember that under a December editorial headline “Shame on Grinch America for workers’ stagnant wages,” we bemoaned the findings from the Colorado Center on Law & Policy that Colorado’s median hourly wages were $18.92, which was about 4 percent lower when adjusted for inflation than in 2007, the last year before the horrors of the Great Recession.

The center went on to note that 2016’s median pay was 2 percent lower, after accounting for inflation, than in it had been 2000.

Michelle Webster, the center’s manager of research and policy analysis, tells us the recent gains, while encouraging, have a long way to go to make up for years of lethargy.