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Barry Ritholtz

What Will Finally Lift Wages for Middle Earners

It's not just the unemployment rate.
Job fairs are a whole different scene these days.

Job fairs are a whole different scene these days.

Photographer: Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg

Over the past few years, I have consistently argued that wages were on the verge of moving higher. Earlier this year, we looked at how increases in state and city minimum-wage laws were driving the wages of the lowest-paid decile of workers higher. Today, we are going to look at some of the factors driving the middle of the pay scale higher. At a later date, we can analyze what has been responsible for gains driving the top of the pay scale.

The current economic environment — with increased hiring but without much wage growth — has been developing since the great financial crisis ended. We continue to read stories anecdotally about pockets of wage gains in certain industries or areas. (Look at what rising competition is doing for forklift drivers' hourly wages, in Bloomberg Businessweek.)