Feb 5, 2024 - Economy

Charted: Workers win as wage growth outpaces inflation

Change in hourly average wage growth and CPI
Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Workers are winning. Hourly wages rose 0.6% in January from the previous month and are up 4.5% from a year earlier — outpacing inflation.

Why it matters: The pay numbers, part of an absolute banger of a jobs report released last Friday, are another sign that the labor market is strong and workers, in some industries, still have leverage.

State of play: Wages have been outpacing inflation since last May, but for the two years before that the situation was reversed.

  • "Wages still have some catching up to do," says Julia Pollak, chief economist at job site ZipRecruiter.

Yes, but: Some economists think the January wage number may be a little too rosy.

  • Hourly earnings might have been higher last month, in part, because of a decline in the number of hours worked, per notes from BofA Global Research and Goldman Sachs.
  • And, there are some other worrying signals that wage growth could be slowing, Pollak says. The pay offered in job postings has come down substantially over the past year, according to ZipRecruiter's data, she says.

The bottom line: Wages are beating inflation, but economists don't think it's a worrying sign of a brewing wage-price spiral. If anything, some are expecting wage growth to moderate a bit in the coming months.

Go deeper