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Opinion
Conor Sen

A Steady Job Beats a Higher Paycheck

Workers feel good about the economy because they value stability over wage growth.

No one wants to have to go here.

No one wants to have to go here.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

One of the anomalies of the current U.S. economy is that workers seem more satisfied with it than economists are. It comes down to their view of the labor market: Workers are right to welcome its stability, and economists are right that wage growth is lacking.

Economists have two main data points in their favor. Wage growth is currently at about  3 percent, compared to 4 percent during the strong parts of the past two cycles. And the employment-to-population ratio for workers aged 25 to 54 still hasn’t returned to its high from the last cycle, let alone the all-time high from 2000.