There is more than meets the eye when it comes to the most recent jobs report

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

Many economists were pleasantly surprised by the Labor Department’s August jobs report Friday morning.

201,000 jobs were added last month when economists only expected a gain of about 190,000 and the unemployment rate remained at 3.9 percent. The number that shocked most experts, however, was that wages grew 2.9 percent faster than last year, making it the fastest growth rate since the recession.

But there is more than meets the eye when it comes such a glowing jobs report, especially when it comes to wage growth. The White House will likely point to these numbers as tangible evidence that the Trump administration is putting more money into the pockets of everyday Americans.

While on paper 2.9 percent wage growth is impressive, when calculating for 2 percent inflation, it’s still quite slow.

In what might have been a preparation for the August jobs report, the White House sent out an email Thursday titled: “The latest Trump Economy myth: Wages are stagnant.” In it, the administration goes on the defensive, offering a full-throated defense of the Trump economy and saying the economic results of the Trump presidency are “undeniable.”

The White House specifically calls out ThinkProgress’s reporting in the email: “Looking for a new talking point, the left found one: Jobs, stocks, and economic growth may be soaring, but pay is not. ‘Worker wages remain stagnant,’ ThinkProgress declared in July.”

In this instance, the White House is referring to a July ThinkProgress article which describes the way corporate executives have successfully enriched themselves through stock buybacks, a windfall enabled by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 22, 2017.

As we reported at the time, the White House had been making a strenuous effort to sell that bill “as a game-changer for average working Americans” despite the fact that the “benefits of that bill appear to be going mostly to the people at the top.” This continues to be the case: The average American worker earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation.

The Thursday email coincided with a release of a new report from Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), wherein the group claims that actually, wage growth is growing at a faster pace than is being reported, you just have to look really, really hard to find it.

The report suggests wages have actually grown by 1.4 percent over the past year when data on benefits, taxes, a different measure of inflation, and how earnings differ across age brackets are all factored in. For the average American family, however, that only comes out to roughly an additional $1,000 per year.

According to CEA Chairman Kevin Hassett, workers value benefits “just as much as cash,” but surveys by groups like the Society for Human Resource Management have found that while most workers value their benefits, they are rarely asked whether or not they would trade them for higher wages.

At any rate, the upshot is that as impressive as this jobs report looks on paper, it nevertheless fails to deliver much in the way of tangible, real-world benefits for workers. The 2.9 wage growth reported, while noteworthy from a post-crash historical perspective, really doesn’t mean much to the 15 million American households struggling to put food on the table.

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Reposted from Think Progress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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