The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
released its May 2019 update on real earnings in the United States on Wednesday. According to the latest reading, real average hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 0.3 percent compared to the preceding month and by 1.7 percent compared to May 2018. On average, workers in the United States in nonsupervisory positions got paid $23.38 an hour last month. Denominated in constant 1982-1984 dollars, that amounts to real average hourly earnings of $9.40, the highest amount on record since 1964.
Since it’s easier to grasp the development of real earnings from today’s point of view, we took the liberty of calculating real earnings in 2019 dollars and taking a look at what hourly earnings from 1964 onwards would be worth assuming today’s prices. As the following chart shows, today’s wages in the United States
are at a historically high level. At $23.38, today’s average hourly earnings exceed the longtime peak dating back to February 1973 by 5 cents. Back then, workers had earned $4.05 an hour, which translates to $23.33 in 2019 dollars.