The first of a three-part Region series on trends in living standards for middle Americans focuses on wages from 1975 and 2005. Microeconomic statistics on individual hourly wages, show stagnation, while macroeconomic data on national labor income per hour exhibit significant growth (39 percent).
The use of different inflation indexes, and the treatment of fringe benefits, explain much of the difference. After these adjustments, are made, median hourly wages (including benefits) rose appreciably (by 28 percent). The distinction between mean and median trends explains most of the remaining disparity.
Coming articles will look at growth in household income and consumption