Oct 25, 2021 - Economy

Business leaders expect wages to keep going up

Net share of companies with rising wages
Data: NABE Business Conditions Survey; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

America’s business leaders expect to keep shelling out higher wages to employees.

Driving the news: According a new quarterly survey released today by the National Association for Business Economics, a record high 58% of respondents increased pay at their firms during the third quarter — and nearly the same share expects to do so again in the coming months.

Why it matters: Strong demand in the U.S. economy is underpinning rising wages as well as continued hiring plans on the part of business leaders. But rising business costs — for things ranging from labor to raw materials — have some economists on alert for spiking inflation trends.

State of play: Average weekly earnings are up 4.5% over the last year, according to government data.

  • Within that, the sectors most in need of more workers have seen outsized gains: construction pay has jumped 7.1% and leisure and hospitality surged 11.2%.
  • Starting this past May, job openings exceeded the number of job-hunters — and wages are bound to continue their rise as employers compete even harder for labor.

The bottom line: "Trouble finding talent ... is certainly something that we continue to hear about all the time,” Chad Moutray, NABE survey analyst, tells Axios.

  • The share of NABE survey respondents reporting shortages of skilled labor rose to 47% in October, from 32% in the prior survey.

This story has been updated to correct the name of the National Association for Business Economics.

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