NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Entering the Labor Day weekend, one thing is clear: Wages aren't rising, and truth be told, they haven't been rising for 35 years. What may turn heads during this long weekend is that the stagnant nature of pay is especially true for those at the middle and upper levels of employment.
Across the income spectrum -- among the wealthy, the middle-class and those living at or below the poverty line -- salaries in the first half of 2014 declined for most U.S. workers when adjusted for inflation, according to a study by the Washington-based Economic Policy Institute. And that's at a time when inflation has been extraordinary sluggish, well under the Federal Reserve's 2% target, despite dire warnings from hawkish economists.
This year's flat wage growth extends a trend that has been largely uninterrupted since 1979, economist Elise Gould said in the study made public earlier this week.
Crunching numbers provided by the Census buearu, Gould discovered that salaries for even high-wage earners and those with a college degree are locked in a freeze-frame, much as those receiving a minimum wage. From the first half of 2013 to the first half of 2014, real hourly wages fell across all income levels except for a tiny 2-cent increase at the 10th percentile, Gould said. That modest increase was due to a handful of states increasing the minimum wage (Washington state's $9.32 an hour is the highest minimum wage). Of course, those states, which include California and New York, are home to some 40% of U.S. workers.