Many of those concerned about the economy have focused recently on the unemployment rate and jobs. Perhaps an equally important issue is pay. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains that, over the past five years, salaries have not kept up with inflation.
“I think that the reason is understandable: As the labor market weakened and as the number of people who had jobs went down, obviously employers had their pick of who they wanted to hire. They did not have to offer the wages that kept up with inflation necessarily.
“And, indeed, now that we look at the data — and I have — from 2007 to 2012, we can see that for here in North Carolina as well as in the nation, salaries for full-time workers simply did not keep up with inflation. For example, looking here in North Carolina between 2007 and 2012, if you adjust salaries for inflation, they went down 3 percent for males (and) they went down 1 percent for females.
“Also if you look at North Carolina salaries compared to U.S. salaries, they are consistently around 90 percent for males and about 90 percent for females.
“Now there’s one piece of good news in this. … If you look … nationally as well as in North Carolina, one group of workers has actually seen their inflation-adjusted salary go up in the last year — that is, between 2011 and 2012 — and that was for female workers here in North Carolina. They actually saw a slight increase in the salary in that year.”