Corporations are wringing more out of us workers, Part II

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In response to Justin’s post about an increase in worker productivity, commenter Newdealanne writes:

The real issue here isn’t how many jobs there are or aren’t; it’s how much they pay.

I’m sorry to say things aren’t looking rosy on that front. As I write in this story, companies have taken the most recent recession as an opportunity to cut back on what they pay workers—both existing employees and new ones that they’re hiring.

This hasn’t historically been the case, even in recessions. Hewitt Associates, an HR consultancy, reports that the average raise this year will be 1.8%—well shy of keeping up with inflation. The low point of salary growth around the 2001 recession was 3.4%, and around the recession of the early ’90s, 4.0%. I don’t have numbers from before 1984, but looking at that year might not be such a bad gauge of the early-’80s recession, since salary growth—at least as captured by the Hewitt numbers—seems to show up slightly after official recessions. In 1984, salaries grew  6.2%.

As I mention in the story, we have seen an uptick in bonuses (and those wouldn’t be captured in the numbers for base salaries). But how many among us get a substantial amount of our paycheck from a bonus? Newdealanne’s point that maybe we should be talking about pay levels and not just jobs is a good one.