Comparing Presidents, Average Real Weekly Wages

This post looks at the average real weekly wage. The data, which goes back to 1964, comes from the BLS using 1982 as a base year, and I used the CPI to transform it into the 2000 base year.

Here’s what average real weekly hourly earnings look like:

There have been a few up periods, but mostly, the series heads down. (At this point, I have no doubt some of you are thinking… but benefits have gone up. I have little doubt that the cost of providing benefits have gone up to employers, but I’m not sure one can say benefits have gone up.)

Now let’s color code this puppy by President…

And a summary…

Workers lost big under Carter, and generally lost ground under Republicans. They gained a small amount under Reagan. But for the most part, workers have only really fared better under LBJ & Clinton since the sample began. The rapid growth in real GDP per capita that occurred in those two administrations seems to have translated into improvements for the average worker.

Because wages only tell part of the story, I’ll try to have a post soon combining several different aspects of the employment story… ability to find a job, pay, and benefits.