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Expand chart
Adapted from an Economic Policy Institute analysis of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Note: Hourly pay refers to wages and benefits of nonsupervisory, private sector workers. Productivity refers to the output of goods and services, accounting for depreciation per hour worked. Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

For decades, U.S. workers won higher pay in lockstep with productivity growth — as businesses became more efficient, they rewarded employees with commensurate wage increases.

But in the early-mid 1970s, the lines diverged (chart above) — economic production kept rising, but wages not so much, including long periods of going flat.

Jared Bernstein, a fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden, tells Axios that part of the reason is globalization and the lessening power of labor unions.

  • But there also is an unexplained factor — economists don't know why wages are stuck despite an ultra-tight 3.9% jobless rate and the slow but continued rise of productivity.

Go deeper: Bernstein's Aug. 3 blog post on the wages and productivity puzzle

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
8 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 10 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

Biden: DOJ should prosecute those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas

President Biden speaks with reporters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The president's remarks come one day after Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon failed to show up for a deposition before the committee.