Jul 7, 2023 - Economy

More Americans believe they'd get a raise if they asked

Data: Morning Consult; Chart: Axios Visuals

In this economy, everything's coming up wages: A rising share of employed adults say that if they ask for a raise at work, they're very likely to get one, per a new Morning Consult survey.

Why it matters: The survey is another sign of worker empowerment in what remains a tight labor market — and it's also an indicator of how important wages have become to the overall economic picture.

  • The prospect of rising wages is, obviously, great for most of us worker bees — but for the economy overall, rising pay makes it harder for inflation to come down.

What they're saying: "With workers feeling that they have more leverage in a tight labor market, the Federal Reserve’s goal of bringing down nominal wage growth in a bid to cool inflation will be difficult," Morning Consult senior economist Jesse Wheeler wrote in a note.

Zoom in: The spiking confidence in pay raises is visible across all income levels.

  • Wheeler tells Axios he was somewhat surprised to see the uptick in this survey question now since the labor market has actually softened some from last year.
  • He theorized that back then when recession talk was peaking, people were more wary of asking.

Of note: Workers in the information and tech sector were the most likely, of all industries, to say they'd get a raise if asked. Wheeler told Axios that these workers are still in high demand — despite layoffs at some prominent companies.

State of play: We'll get a clearer picture of the June job market — and overall wage growth — when the Labor Department releases its report later Friday morning, but fresh data out Thursday points to a still robust job market and an emboldened workforce, as Axios' Neil Irwin reported.

The big picture: As pandemic-era inflation pressures like supply chain snarls have mostly vanished, the tight labor market and worker pay are becoming increasingly important inflation drivers.

  • In the WSJ, Greg Ip points to the airline sector as embodying the issue: Airlines are seeing increased demand. But the industry is constrained by labor shortages. That's giving workers increased leverage to ask for higher pay. (Delta pilots got a 34% wage increase this year.)
  • Those kinds of wage increases could eat into profit margins — or businesses, especially where demand is still high, could just keep raising prices. Therein lies the macro problem.

Meanwhile: Wages are playing a starring role in the labor unrest we're seeing this summer, too.

  • Negotiations between 340,000 Teamsters and UPS broke down earlier this week — and a strike is looking increasingly likely — over UPS drivers' demands for higher pay.
  • Hotel workers in Los Angeles headed to the picket lines over the weekend also seeking higher pay.

The bottom line: The pendulum has not quite swung back in the boss' favor.

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