Acceleration In Wage Growth Is A Mirage

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The hype over wage growth had been nonstop since Friday's job's report. No one bothered to look at the details.

Wage Growth Hype

There's a lot more hype if you look for it. The fact is, there is no solid evidence wage growth accelerated.

Wait a second doesn't that lead chart show wage growth is accelerating?

Yes it does. But it's the only chart. Let's look at charts I compiled, also using BLS data.

Year-Over-Year Wage Growth Total Private vs. Production and Nonsupervisory Seasonally Adjusted

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Some articles noted a difference between total private and nonsupervisory wage growth. That's as deep as anyone got. There are numerous problems with the above chart.

For starters when comparing year-over-year data it's best to use non-seasonally-adjusted numbers.

Second, the average workweek declined in January. That may have skewed the data or the seasonal adjustment.

Third, averages are likely skewed by management wages. ​

Year-Over-Year Wage Growth Total Private vs. Production and Nonsupervisory Not Seasonally Adjusted

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A comparison of January 2018 to 2017 unadjusted does not look quite so hot does it?

Year-Over-Year Nonsupervisory SA vs NSA

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The Total series is new. It only dates to 2007. Production and nonsupervisory data dates back decades. Arguably this is another problem.

Note that in 2010 and prior years SA and NSA comparisons tracked extremely well, often matching on the nose. Something happened since then.

Have seasonal adjustment gone haywire? Did Obamacare enter the picture?

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Charles Howard 1 year ago Member's comment

Yes, long in the tooth indeed.

Gary Anderson 1 year ago Contributor's comment

Not only is it long in the tooth, but wages increases are going to management. People have to make enough to afford to buy that which is produced. If they can't, and capacity utilization is rising, production will hit a wall.