Winning: US wages growing in areas with low unemployment

DCNFJoe Simonson, DCNF

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The missing piece from the economic puzzle over the last few years — rising wages — is getting filled in a number of American cities thank to a tighter labor market.

Employers in cities like Minneapolis, Denver, and Fort Myers, Fla., are finally raising wages to attract workers as the unemployment rate sits near three percent or lower.

“You’re seeing the first movers into full employment and past it, with the uptick in wage growth,” senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Adam Kamins told the Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. unemployment rate sits  at 4.1 percent, the lowest level in 17 years. Still, despite a prolonged period of modest economic and job growth, wages have lagged. National wages grew less than two percent in 2016.

Yet in areas with some of the lowest unemployment rates, such as Minneapolis. private sector wage growth hit four percent — the best figures for the area in six years.

Even kitchen staffers, such as those at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Fort Myers, are finding their wages raised five to 10 percent.

“If you’re a dishwasher with a pulse, we’d probably hire you,” said William Prather, the owner.

An analysis from the WSJ found that one reason why wages did not grow with a lowering unemployment rate is because of the “development of a global labor market put U.S. workers in competition with peers in China and Europe.”

These positive developments will likely give support to those in the U.S. who favor a sharp cut in the number of foreign-born individuals the country lets in each year.

George Borjas, a professor of economics and social policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University found in 2016 that a large influx of foreign immigrants in Miami depressed the wages of native low-skill workers.

President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly argued that high immigration levels have hurt many American workers, revealed a plan in Aug. 2017 to cut legal immigration by half. He has also directed federal agencies to accelerate domestic deportations of illegal aliens.

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