Wages, Eroded by Inflation All Year, Gain Some Ground

Off the Charts: The Visual Says It All

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Workers’ pay raises were more than eaten up by rising costs this year—until August, when they finally gained back a little ground.

To sweeten the pot and fill a record number of job openings, employers have been offering more money, and average wages have been rising. But prices on a wide array of things went up even faster, eroding buying power, as supply chains were disrupted and producers faced shortages of critical items like computer chips. Last month, the tide finally turned, at least for the moment, as a chart of inflation-adjusted wages shows.

Hourly pay rose 0.6% from the month before—more than it had in recent months—and the consumer price index rose 0.3%—less than in recent months. The result? A 0.4% boost to real average hourly earnings, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday.

Highlighting the trend of companies raising wages, Amazon said Tuesday it was looking to fill 125,000 positions offering at least $18 an hour, well above its $15 an hour minimum starting salary, and offering $3,000 signing bonuses in certain locations to boot. Meanwhile, inflation eased in August, with prices for several items including airfare and used cars declining, the bureau said Tuesday.

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