The compensation-productivity gap
February 24, 2011
The gap between real hourly compensation and labor productivity is a "wage gap" that indicates whether workers' compensation is keeping up with productivity. Since the 1970s, growth in inflation-adjusted, or real, hourly compensation—a measure of workers' purchasing power—has lagged behind labor productivity growth.
Growth of productivity and real hourly compensation in the nonfarm business sector (which accounts for three-fourths of output and employment in the total U.S. economy) was robust until 1973, at which time growth slowed in both measures. During the 1947–73 period, the annual change in productivity averaged 2.8 percent, while real hourly compensation growth averaged 2.6 percent. Over the 1973–79 period, the averages were 1.1 and 0.9 percent, respectively.
Real hourly compensation growth failed to keep pace with accelerating productivity growth over the past three decades, and the gap between productivity growth and compensation growth widened. Over the 2000–09 period, growth in productivity averaged 2.5 percent; growth in real compensation averaged 1.1 percent over the same period.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, The compensation-productivity gap on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2011/ted_20110224.htm (visited August 31, 2016).
Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics
A look at healthcare spending, employment, pay, benefits, and prices
As one of the largest U.S. industries, healthcare is steadily growing to meet the needs of an increasing population with an increasing life expectancy. This Spotlight looks at how much people spend on healthcare, current and projected employment in the industry, employer-provided healthcare benefits, healthcare prices, and pay for workers in healthcare occupations.
Employment and Wages in Healthcare Occupations
Healthcare occupations are a significant percentage of U.S. employment. Some of the largest and highest paying occupations are in healthcare. This Spotlight examines employment and wages for healthcare occupations.
Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.