2014 another stagnant year for wages: study

As part of its push for a federal minimum wage increase, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) is pointing to stagnant wages in 2014, part of a 35-year trend, it says.

Compared to 2007, hourly wages for Americans in 2014 were flat or had fallen, EPI said in a Thursday report.

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“The poor performance of American workers’ wages in recent decades — particularly their failure to grow at anywhere near the pace of overall productivity — is the country’s central economic challenge,” the report said.  

“Raising wages is the key to addressing middle-class income stagnation, rising income inequality, and lagging economic mobility, and is essential to moving families out of poverty.”

The report found that across the board, men’s wages remain higher than women’s, and workers of color continue to have hourly wages far below those of their white counterparts.

From 2013 to 2014, the report said that real hourly wages fell at all wage levels, except for a miniscule 3-cent increase at the 40th percentile, from $14.43 to $14.46, and a more significant increase at the 10th percentile, from $8.51 to $8.62.

The increased at the 10th percentile, the report said, was the result of states adopting mandatory minimum wage increases, which demonstrates the impact of public policy.

EPI’s Senior Economist Elise Gould said the report just happened to be released on the same day that Wal-Mart announced it’s raising its starting wage to $9 an hour in U.S. stores starting in April. She said there is no guarantee Wal-Mart will actually raise its pay as promised.

“What Wal-Mart is doing is mostly a media show, which it seems to be succeeding at,” she said. “We need a labor standard that is going to lift up the wages for all workers.”