SALINA, UT - MAY 28: A miner exits the main entrance at the Sufco Coal Mine, after his shift, 30 miles east of Salina, Utah on May 28, 2014. The Sufco mine produces 30,000 tons of more environmentally friendly low sulfur coal a day which is delivered to coal-fired power plants throughout the western United States. On June 2 President Obama is expected to use his executive authority to issue an EPA regulation forcing coal-fired power plants to reduce carbon pollution. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

So Where Are Those Raises?

Mark Whitehouse writes editorials on global economics and finance. He was previously at the Wall Street Journal, where he covered economics in New York and served as a deputy bureau chief in London. He was also the founding managing editor of Vedomosti, a Russian-language business daily. He was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting on Russia in 1999.
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One of the big debates over the Federal Reserve's extraordinary stimulus policies focuses on wages: Some would like to see them growing faster, while others worry that raises could trigger an inflationary spiral.

Whatever your perspective, the latest data from the Labor Department don't show much evidence of wage acceleration.

Overall, the pace of wage growth in the private sector has been remarkably slow and steady: Hourly earnings rose at an annualized rate of 2 percent over the past three months, roughly the same as over the past year and since the beginning of the recovery in mid-2009. That's just enough to keep up with consumer price inflation, which has run at an average annual rate of 2 percent since mid-2009.

Workers in some industries have been doing better than others. Thanks to the shale boom, wages in mining and logging are up more than 5 percent from a year ago, though the growth appears to be slowing down in recent months. Finance and information have been doing well -- further evidence of the advantages of working in so-called knowledge industries.

All told, though, wage gains have been meager, and still trail far behind the pace at which workers' output per hour has increased during the recovery. A bit more of a raise should be nothing to worry about.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Mark Whitehouse at

To contact the editor on this story:
Toby Harshaw at