Wages see biggest three-month jump in 20 years

Americans’ wages saw the biggest three-month jump in 20 years in the latest quarter ending in September, according to available federal records, The Associated Press reported.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that wages increased 1.5 percent from the last quarter and benefit costs rose 0.9 percent. In comparison, wages for workers had increased 0.9 percent in the quarter ending in June and benefit costs rose during that time at 0.4 percent. 

Among the groups that saw the highest rise in pay included retail employees, at 5.9 percent compared to last year, and hotel, restaurant and bar employees, at 8.1 percent, according to the AP. 

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Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that workers’ pay increased 4.6 percent over the span of a year ending in the previous month, while benefit costs were up 2.6 percent. 

Data from the Commerce Department suggests that employees will be able to enjoy the wage increases they have witnessed recently, as inflation was mostly flat last month. However, personal incomes decreased by 1 percent. Federal unemployment benefits that expired last month could further impact those numbers for October. 

The data comes as industries, especially within the service sector, have been competing for workers who are demanding better pay and benefits amid the pandemic. 

Businesses like McDonald’s and Starbucks have been raising their wages in an effort to lure more employees as they seek to tackle renewed demand that has been unleashed by the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine and federal aid. 

Earlier this month, the Labor Department reported a dismal job report, saying that 194,000 jobs had been added in September in comparison to the approximately 500,000 jobs that economists were anticipating.