The Slatest

Wages Grew Last Year at Fastest Rate Since ’08 Crash (but Still Not As Fast As They Used To)

Barack Obama and Joe Biden at the White House on Jan. 4.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Good: U.S. workers’ average wages rose by 2.9 percent last year. That’s the fastest rate of wage increases since the 2008 crash, and it’s faster than the current rate of inflation (which was 1.5 percent in December), which means that you can actually use the extra money you’re making to buy more stuff.

Bad: Before the crash, the U.S. was cruising along with annual wages rising at rates between 3 and 4 percent—rates characteristic of other economic boom times over the past 30 or so years. So things are still not quite as good as they were—and a lot of the wage growth that did happen in the first several years of the recovery under Obama was in fact eaten up by inflation.

Thanks, Obama (sort of)!

Oh, and the unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percent but is at a still-relatively-low 4.7 percent. The “U-6” unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers and those who are part-time but would like to be full-time, is at 9.2 percent.