And The Not So Pretty: Record Low Rise In Average Hourly Wages

As we first observed in February of 2012, we will not tire of repeating that when it comes to the jobs picture there are two key components: the quantitative, or the headline jobs and unemployment rate numbers everyone is fascinated by at 8:30 am each first Friday of the month, and the qualitative, or the number that gets far less attention, yet which is so very critical to Americans on those occasions they want to use their earned wages to purchase goods and services. And this is where the ugly side of today's jobs report came out. Because while the quantitative data was good, just as we and everyone else had expected from the final datapoint before the election (the good news there is that finally we will revert to reality following November 6), the qualitative data was ugly. How ugly? As the BLS reported, the average hourly earnings in October declined from $19.80 to $19.79 in September, and at $19.57 last October. This was only the fifth sequential decline in this series since the start of the Depression in December 2007. But more important was the Y/Y change in average hourly earnings. At 1.1% (down from 1.4% a month ago), this was the lowest Y/Y increase in this series, topping the collapse in real earnings which started in December 2008, and is now the lowest in history. In other words, more jobs may be added, but on a real basis, wages are not even keeping up with inflation!

Compared to job "gains", it is obvious that all nominal gains are at the expense of wage losses: