2022 US Jobs Report: Biggest Pay Raises Went to Black, Young, and Low-Wage Workers

According to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median American weekly wage for full-time workers jumped 7.4% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2022, outpacing the fourth-quarter inflation rate of 7.1%.

2022 US Jobs Report: Biggest Pay Raises Went to Black, Young, and Low-Wage Workers
Image credit: AP [via The Wall Street Journal]

Facts

  • According to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median American weekly wage for full-time workers jumped 7.4% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2022, outpacing the fourth-quarter inflation rate of 7.1%.
  • Pay raises were even larger for Black Americans, young workers (16-24-year-olds), and the bottom 10% of income workers, who received median wage increases of 11.3%, 10%, and 10%, respectively.
  • The median weekly pay differed between racial groups, with Hispanics earning $837, Black workers earning $896, White workers earning $1,111, and Asian workers earning $1,496. Female weekly pay in each category differed, though all made between 80% and 90% of their male counterparts.
  • In a reversal of trends seen during the pandemic — when Americans without college degrees saw outsized wage gains — workers with at least a bachelor's degree saw a 5.5% year-over-year wage bump. This is in contrast to the second quarter of 2022, where those without a high school diploma saw an 11.1% bump in the second quarter.
  • Full-time workers without a high school diploma over the age of 25 made $675 weekly, compared with $875 for high school graduates with no college education and $1,547 for those with at least one college degree.
  • Regarding class differences, the roughly 10% pay bump for the bottom 10% of income earners meant they made a median of $571 per week, with those in the top 10% seeing a pay increase of 5.7% to a median of $2,584 a week.

Sources: BLS and Wall Street Journal.

Narratives

  • Democratic narrative, as provided by Morning Star. These moderate wage increases are the kind of positive sign that is desperately needed as global inflation continues to bite the average American worker. Rapid wage rises seen last year were one of the reasons inflation became so rampant, so the fact that they haven't quite kept pace with inflation is actually good news. This update reflects the success of the Fed's interest rate strategy, which is balancing the mitigation of rising living costs with a dampening of inflationary pressure.
  • Republican narrative, as provided by The Washington Examiner. Although some wage increases finally outpaced the inflation rate last quarter, the average American doesn't yet have cause to celebrate. With year-over-year costs of cereal up 16%, dairy products up 15%, and nonalcoholic beverages up 12%, recent wage gains have done little to counter the pain felt by Americans when shopping for basic living necessities. Biden is overstating economic success, while ordinary citizens struggle to pay their bills and the economy continues to spiral out of control.

Predictions