The good news is that American workers saw their average hourly wage rise $1.46 an hour, a 5.8% increase that brought the average up to $26.61 an hour worked. The only one-year wage gain to compare with this was in 1981, when wages rose 7.2 percent. Meanwhile, the Conference Board’s latest survey found that executives at large businesses are budgeting 3.9% salary increases for the current year, which would be the highest growth rate in budgeted raises since 2008.
One of the biggest differences between attending college in the pre-1980s era and today is the enormous cost difference, to the point where virtually every college student has to take out student loans in order to matriculate. These loans then sit on the graduates’ balance sheet for years and sometimes more than a decade, reducing their standard of living in the early years of employment. In the 1980-81 school year, tuition at a private, non-profit four-year college cost an average of $11,810 in today’s dollars. Last year that cost had risen to $38,780. Tuition at public four-year universities rose from an average of $2,620 to $10,980—again, in today’s dollars.
You might be reading about the internal debate at the Federal Reserve Board about when and how to ‘shrink its balance sheet,’ which will (articles tell us) have some mysteriously negative impact on the U.S. investment markets. But what are they actually talking about?