The economy has made great strides since the recession, but weakness remains

With today’s jobs report we can look at the entirety of 2017—putting the year as a whole in perspective and comparing 2017 with 2007, the last business cycle peak before the Great Recession began. Yesterday, I provided a fairly broad overview of the year with context since the last business cycle peak before the Great Recession (2007) and the last time the U.S. economy was at full employment (2000).

As the recovery has strengthened we’ve seen improvements in all measures of employment, unemployment, and wage growth. These measures tell a consistent story—an economy on its way to full employment, but not there yet. Taking a data-driven approach to policymaking would mean continuing to push, keeping interest rates low and letting the economy recover for Americans across genders, races, ethnicities, and levels of educational attainment.

Payroll employment growth in December was 148,000, bringing average job growth in 2017 to 171,000. The figure below shows average employment growth over the last several years. While more than enough to keep up with population growth and pull in workers from the sidelines, job growth in 2017 was noticeably slower than in recent years.

Average monthly total nonfarm employment growth, 2006–2017

Year Average monthly total nonfarm employment growth
2006 174
2007 96
2008 -297
2009 -422
2010 88
2011 174
2012 179
2013 192
2014 250
2015 226
2016 187
2017 171
ChartData Download data

The data below can be saved or copied directly into Excel.

Source: Data are from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) series of the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are subject to occasional revisions.

Copy the code below to embed this chart on your website.

In December, the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent. Taking 2017 as a whole, the unemployment rate averaged 4.4 percent. Using the last time the economy was at full employment as a benchmark—2000—it’s clear there’s still room for improvement. The unemployment rate averaged 4.0 percent in 2000, and fell below 4.0 percent for five months. Given that 2000 saw no pronounced acceleration of inflation, and given that inflation remains below the Federal Reserve’s preferred target today, it’s safe to say that the unemployment rate can continue to fall without risking rapidly accelerating inflation.

In the past, when the monthly unemployment rate has been 4.4 percent (the full year average in 2017) we typically have seen far higher shares of the prime-age population with a job. The figure below compares the prime-age employment to population ratio (EPOP) in April and August 2017, when the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent, with the EPOP in the months during the last two business cycles when the unemployment rate was also 4.4 percent. As you can see, despite the low unemployment rate, there are still workers sitting on the sidelines because of weakness in today’s economy.

When unemployment is 4.4 percent, the prime-age employment-to-population ratio is historically much higher: Average prime-age employment-to-population ratio when the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in last two business cycles

Year Average prime-age EPOP during months that unemployment rate was 4.4
1998/1999 81.2
2006/2007 80.1
2017 78.5
ChartData Download data

The data below can be saved or copied directly into Excel.

Note: The unemployment rate hit 4.4% in "1998/1999" (May 1998, November 1998, December 1998, February of 1999, and April 2001), "2006/2007" (October 2006, December 2006, March 2007, and May 2007), and "2017" (April 2017, August 2017). The vertical axis is scaled to the minimum and maximum values (74.8 and 81.9) of the prime-age (25-54) employment-to-population ratio over the last two decades.

Source: EPI analysis of BLS Current Population Survey public data series.

Copy the code below to embed this chart on your website.

Though a notably volatile series, the black unemployment rate hit a new low this month (6.8 percent), but still remains significantly higher than the white unemployment rate. The figure below shows the unemployment rate for white, black, and Hispanic workers since 1995. Because the roughly 2:1 ratio of black to white unemployment rates—historically accurate but not immutable with policy—each additional reduction in overall unemployment that can be attained actually provides disproportionate benefits to workers of color. Given that workers of color have historically faced discriminatory barriers to labor market success, this is an enormously valuable benefit to chasing full employment.

Unemployment rate of workers age 16 and older by race and ethnicity, 1995–2017

Date White Black Hispanic
Jan-1995 4.8 10.3 10.2
Feb-1995 4.7 10.1 9
Mar-1995 4.7 9.7 8.9
Apr-1995 5 10.7 8.9
May-1995 5 10 9.8
Jun-1995 4.9 10.7 9.1
Jul-1995 4.9 10.9 8.8
Aug-1995 4.9 11.1 9.6
Sep-1995 4.9 11.1 9.1
Oct-1995 4.9 10 9.4
Nov-1995 5 9.7 9.5
Dec-1995 4.9 10.2 9.3
Jan-1996 4.9 10.6 9.4
Feb-1996 4.8 10 9.6
Mar-1996 4.8 10.6 9.6
Apr-1996 4.8 10.7 9.6
May-1996 4.9 10.2 9.6
Jun-1996 4.6 10.4 8.8
Jul-1996 4.7 10.6 8.8
Aug-1996 4.4 10.6 8.8
Sep-1996 4.5 10.6 8.2
Oct-1996 4.5 10.7 8
Nov-1996 4.6 10.6 8.5
Dec-1996 4.6 10.5 7.4
Jan-1997 4.5 10.8 8.4
Feb-1997 4.5 10.7 8.2
Mar-1997 4.4 10.5 8.3
Apr-1997 4.3 10.2 8.2
May-1997 4.1 10.3 7.7
Jun-1997 4.2 10.8 7.5
Jul-1997 4.2 9.5 7.9
Aug-1997 4.2 9.4 7.2
Sep-1997 4.2 9.5 7.4
Oct-1997 4.1 9.5 7.8
Nov-1997 3.9 9.5 7
Dec-1997 3.9 10 7.3
Jan-1998 4 9.4 7.1
Feb-1998 3.9 9.3 6.9
Mar-1998 4 9.2 6.9
Apr-1998 3.7 9.1 6.7
May-1998 3.8 8.9 6.9
Jun-1998 3.9 8.8 7.4
Jul-1998 3.8 9.5 7.3
Aug-1998 3.9 8.8 7.4
Sep-1998 3.9 9.1 7.3
Oct-1998 3.9 8.6 7.2
Nov-1998 3.8 8.6 7.1
Dec-1998 3.8 7.7 7.7
Jan-1999 3.8 7.8 6.7
Feb-1999 3.8 8.2 6.7
Mar-1999 3.6 8 5.8
Apr-1999 3.8 7.8 7
May-1999 3.7 7.4 6.7
Jun-1999 3.8 7.7 6.6
Jul-1999 3.7 8.7 6.5
Aug-1999 3.7 7.7 6.5
Sep-1999 3.6 8.5 6.7
Oct-1999 3.5 8.4 6.4
Nov-1999 3.5 8 6
Dec-1999 3.5 7.8 5.8
Jan-2000 3.4 8.2 5.6
Feb-2000 3.6 8.1 5.7
Mar-2000 3.5 7.4 6.1
Apr-2000 3.4 7% 5.5
May-2000 3.5 7.7 5.8
Jun-2000 3.4  7.8 5.6
Jul-2000 3.5 7.7 5.8
Aug-2000 3.6 7.9 5.9
Sep-2000 3.5 7.3 5.8
Oct-2000 3.4 7.3 5.1
Nov-2000 3.5 7.3 6
Dec-2000 3.5 7.4 5.7
Jan-2001 3.6 8.2 5.8
Feb-2001 3.7 7.7 6.1
Mar-2001 3.7 8.3 6.2
Apr-2001 3.9 8 6.4
May-2001 3.8 7.9 6.3
Jun-2001 4 8.3 6.6
Jul-2001 4 8 6.2
Aug-2001 4.3 9.1 6.5
Sep-2001 4.3 8.9 6.7
Oct-2001 4.7 9.5 7.1
Nov-2001 4.9 9.8 7.3
Dec-2001 5.1 10.1 7.7
Jan-2002 5.1 10 7.8
Feb-2002 5 9.9 7
Mar-2002 5 10.5 7.5
Apr-2002 5.2 10.7 8
May-2002 5.1 10.2 7.1
Jun-2002 5.1 10.5 7.4
Jul-2002 5.2 9.8 7.4
Aug-2002 5.1 9.8 7.5
Sep-2002 5.1 9.7 7.4
Oct-2002 5.1 9.8 7.9
Nov-2002 5.1 10.7 7.8
Dec-2002 5.1 11.3 7.9
Jan-2003 5.2 10.5 7.9
Feb-2003 5.1 10.7 7.7
Mar-2003 5.1 10.3 7.8
Apr-2003 5.3 10.9 7.6
May-2003 5.4 10.9 8
Jun-2003 5.5 11.5 8.3
Jul-2003 5.4 10.9 8
Aug-2003 5.4 10.9 7.7
Sep-2003 5.3 11.1 7.3
Oct-2003 5.1 11.4 7.5
Nov-2003 5.2 10.2 7.4
Dec-2003 5 10.1 6.7
Jan-2004 5 10.4 7.3
Feb-2004 4.9 9.7 7.4
Mar-2004 5.1 10.3 7.6
Apr-2004 5 9.8 7.1
May-2004 4.9 10.1 6.9
Jun-2004 5 10.2 6.6
Jul-2004 4.7 11 6.8
Aug-2004 4.7 10.5 6.8
Sep-2004 4.6 10.3 6.8
Oct-2004 4.6 10.8 6.8
Nov-2004 4.6 10.7 6.7
Dec-2004 4.5 10.7 6.6
Jan-2005 4.5 10.6 6
Feb-2005 4.6 10.9 6.3
Mar-2005 4.5 10.5 5.8
Apr-2005 4.4 10.3 6.4
May-2005 4.4 10.1 6
Jun-2005 4.3 10.2 5.7
Jul-2005 4.2 9.2 5.5
Aug-2005 4.2 9.7 5.8
Sep-2005 4.4 9.4 6.4
Oct-2005 4.4 9.1 6
Nov-2005 4.3 10.6 6.1
Dec-2005 4.2 9.2 6.1
Jan-2006 4.1 8.9 5.5
Feb-2006 4.1 9.5 5.4
Mar-2006 4 9.5 5.2
Apr-2006 4.1 9.4 5.5
May-2006 4.1 8.7 5
Jun-2006 4.1 8.9 5.2
Jul-2006 4.1 9.5 5.2
Aug-2006 4.1 8.8 5.3
Sep-2006 3.9 9 5.5
Oct-2006 3.9 8.4 4.8%
Nov-2006 4 8.5 5.1
Dec-2006 3.9 8.3 5
Jan-2007 4.2 7.9 5.5
Feb-2007 4.1 8 5.1
Mar-2007 3.8 8.4 5
Apr-2007 4 8.3 5.6
May-2007 3.9 8.3 5.8
Jun-2007 4.1 8.5 5.5
Jul-2007 4.2 8.1 5.9
Aug-2007 4.2 7.6 5.5
Sep-2007 4.2 8 5.9
Oct-2007 4.1 8.5 5.7
Nov-2007 4.2 8.5 5.9
Dec-2007 4.4 9 6.3
Jan-2008 4.4 9.1 6.3
Feb-2008 4.4 8.4 6.2
Mar-2008 4.5 9.2 6.9
Apr-2008 4.4 8.6 7.1
May-2008 4.8 9.6 6.9
Jun-2008 5 9.4 7.6
Jul-2008 5.2 10 7.5
Aug-2008 5.4 10.6 8
Sep-2008 5.4 11.3 8
Oct-2008 5.9 11.4 8.8
Nov-2008 6.2 11.5 8.7
Dec-2008 6.7 12.1 9.4
Jan-2009 7.1 12.7 10.1
Feb-2009 7.6 13.7 11.3
Mar-2009 8 13.7 11.7
Apr-2009 8.1 15 11.4
May-2009 8.5 15 12.3
Jun-2009 8.7 14.8 12.1
Jul-2009 8.7 14.8 12.5
Aug-2009 8.9 14.8 13%
Sep-2009 8.9 15.3 12.6
Oct-2009 9.2 15.8 12.8
Nov-2009 9.2% 15.7 12.4
Dec-2009 9 16.1 12.8
Jan-2010 8.8 16.5 12.9
Feb-2010 8.9 16.1 12.7
Mar-2010 8.9 16.8  12.9
Apr-2010 9 16.6 12.5
May-2010 8.7 15.5 12
Jun-2010 8.6 15.2 12.3
Jul-2010 8.5 15.6 12.2
Aug-2010 8.6 15.9 12
Sep-2010 8.6 16 12.3
Oct-2010 8.6 15.6 12.3
Nov-2010 8.9 16.2 12.9
Dec-2010 8.5 15.5 12.9
Jan-2011 8.1 15.8 12.3
Feb-2011 8.1 15.5 11.8
Mar-2011 8 15.8 11.6
Apr-2011 8.1 16.5 11.9
May-2011 7.9 16.3 11.6
Jun-2011 8.1 16.2 11.5
Jul-2011 8 15.9 11.2
Aug-2011 7.9 16.4 11.2
Sep-2011 7.9 15.9 11.2
Oct-2011 7.9 14.6 11.3
Nov-2011 7.7 15.6 11.2
Dec-2011 7.5 15.4 11.1
Jan-2012 7.4 13.6 10.7
Feb-2012 7.4 14 10.9
Mar-2012 7.3 14 10.6
Apr-2012 7.4 13.3 10.3
May-2012 7.4 13.5 10.9
Jun-2012 7.3 14.5 10.9
Jul-2012 7.3 14.2 10.2
Aug-2012 7.2 13.8 10.1
Sep-2012 7 13.6 9.7
Oct-2012 6.9 14.1 10
Nov-2012 6.8 13.3 9.9
Dec-2012 6.9 14 9.6
Jan-2013 7.1 13.7 9.7
Feb-2013 6.8 13.8 9.7
Mar-2013 6.7 13 9.3
Apr-2013 6.7 13.3 9
May-2013 6.7 13.4 9
Jun-2013 6.6 14.2 9.1
Jul-2013 6.5 12.6 9.4
Aug-2013 6.4 12.8 9.2
Sep-2013 6.3 13 8.8
Oct-2013 6.3 12.8 9.1
Nov-2013 6.1 12.3 8.7
Dec-2013 5.9 11.9 8.3
Jan-2014 5.7 12.1 8.3
Feb-2014 5.8 11.8 8.2
Mar-2014 5.8 12.1 7.9
Apr-2014 5.3 11.5 7.3
May-2014 5.4 11.4 7.7
Jun-2014 5.3 11 7.7
Jul-2014 5.3 11.6 7.7
Aug-2014 5.3 11.4 7.4
Sep-2014 5.1 11 6.8
Oct-2014 4.8 10.6 6.8
Nov-2014 5 10.9 6.6
Dec-2014 4.7 10.6 6.4
Jan-2015 4.9 10.4 6.7
Feb-2015 4.7 10.2 6.8
Mar-2015 4.8 10 6.8
Apr-2015 4.7 9.7 6.9
May-2015 4.8 10.3 6.8
Jun-2015 4.6 9.6 6.7
Jul-2015 4.5 9.1 6.9
Aug-2015 4.4 9.3 6.6
Sep-2015 4.4 9.2 6.2
Oct-2015 4.4 9 6.3
Nov-2015 4.4 9.3 6.4
Dec-2015 4.4 8.5 6.2
Jan-2016 4.3 8.9 5.9
Feb-2016 4.3 8.7 5.4
Mar-2016 4.3 9 5.6
Apr-2016 4.4 8.9 6.2
May-2016 4.2 8.2 5.6
Jun-2016 4.3 8.7 5.9
Jul-2016 4.2 8.4 5.4
Aug-2016 4.3 8 5.6
Sep-2016 4.4 8.3 6.4
Oct-2016 4.3 8.3 5.7
Nov-2016 4.2 7.9 5.7
Dec-2016 4.2 7.9 5.9
Jan-2017 4.3 7.8 5.9
Feb-2017 4.1 8.1 5.6
Mar-2017 3.9 8 5.1
Apr-2017 3.9 7.9 5.2
May-2017 3.7 7.6 5.2
Jun-2017 3.8 7.1 4.8
Jul-2017 3.7 7.4 5.1
Aug-2017 3.8 7.6 5.1
Sep-2017 3.7 7 5.1
Oct-2017 3.5 7.3 4.8
Nov-2017 3.7 7.2 4.8
Dec-2017 3.7% 6.8% 4.9%
ChartData Download data

The data below can be saved or copied directly into Excel.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey, public data series

Copy the code below to embed this chart on your website.

Two other important indicators, the prime-age EPOP and nominal wage growth, are still far lower than would be expected in a stronger economy. Prime-age EPOP has been one of the major indicators lagging behind in the recovery. As shown in the figure below, the prime-age EPOP has been slowly but fairly steadily improving since it bottomed out in 2010, hitting a recovery-high of 79.1 percent in December—but the graph also shows recent relevant benchmarks with which to judge the prime-age EPOP’s progress. The share of the prime-age population with a job remains far below its high points in both of the last two recoveries. In a stronger economy, we would expect a greater share of prime-working-age workers to actually have a job. If the economy continues to improve as it has over the last year, more people will be pulled off the sidelines and back into the labor force.

Employment-to-population ratio of workers ages 25-54, 1989–2017

Date Employment-to-population ratio
Jan-1989 80
Feb-1989 79.9
Mar-1989 79.9
Apr-1989 79.8
May-1989 79.8
Jun-1989 79.8
Jul-1989 79.8
Aug-1989 79.9
Sep-1989 80
Oct-1989 79.9
Nov-1989 80.2
Dec-1989 80.1
Jan-1990 80.2
Feb-1990 80.2
Mar-1990 80.1
Apr-1990 79.9
May-1990 79.9
Jun-1990 79.8
Jul-1990 79.6
Aug-1990 79.5
Sep-1990 79.4
Oct-1990 79.4
Nov-1990 79.2
Dec-1990 79
Jan-1991 78.9
Feb-1991 78.9
Mar-1991 78.7
Apr-1991 79
May-1991 78.6
Jun-1991 78.7
Jul-1991 78.6
Aug-1991 78.5
Sep-1991 78.6
Oct-1991 78.5
Nov-1991 78.4
Dec-1991 78.3
Jan-1992 78.4
Feb-1992 78.2
Mar-1992 78.2
Apr-1992 78.4
May-1992 78.4
Jun-1992 78.5
Jul-1992 78.4
Aug-1992 78.4
Sep-1992 78.3
Oct-1992 78.2
Nov-1992 78.2
Dec-1992 78.2
Jan-1993 78.2
Feb-1993 78.1%
Mar-1993 78.2
Apr-1993 78.2
May-1993 78.5
Jun-1993 78.6
Jul-1993 78.6
Aug-1993 78.8
Sep-1993 78.6
Oct-1993 78.7
Nov-1993 79
Dec-1993 79
Jan-1994 78.9
Feb-1994 78.9
Mar-1994 78.9
Apr-1994 79
May-1994 79.2
Jun-1994 78.8
Jul-1994 79.1
Aug-1994 79.2
Sep-1994 79.6
Oct-1994 79.6
Nov-1994 79.8
Dec-1994 79.8
Jan-1995 79.7
Feb-1995 80
Mar-1995 79.9
Apr-1995 79.8
May-1995 79.7
Jun-1995 79.5
Jul-1995 79.7
Aug-1995 79.6
Sep-1995 79.8
Oct-1995 79.8
Nov-1995 79.7
Dec-1995 79.7
Jan-1996 79.8
Feb-1996 79.9
Mar-1996 79.9
Apr-1996 79.9
May-1996 80
Jun-1996 80.1
Jul-1996 80.4
Aug-1996 80.5
Sep-1996 80.4
Oct-1996 80.6
Nov-1996 80.5
Dec-1996 80.5
Jan-1997 80.5
Feb-1997 80.4
Mar-1997 80.6
Apr-1997 80.7
May-1997 80.6
Jun-1997 80.9
Jul-1997 81.1
Aug-1997 81.3
Sep-1997 81.1
Oct-1997 81.1
Nov-1997 81
Dec-1997 81
Jan-1998 81
Feb-1998 81
Mar-1998 81
Apr-1998 81.1
May-1998 81
Jun-1998 81
Jul-1998 81.1
Aug-1998 81.2
Sep-1998 81.3
Oct-1998 81.1
Nov-1998 81.2
Dec-1998 81.3
Jan-1999 81.8
Feb-1999 81.5
Mar-1999 81.3
Apr-1999 81.3
May-1999 81.4
Jun-1999 81.4
Jul-1999 81.2
Aug-1999 81.3
Sep-1999 81.3
Oct-1999 81.5
Nov-1999 81.6
Dec-1999 81.5
Jan-2000 81.8
Feb-2000 81.8
Mar-2000 81.7
Apr-2000 81.9%
May-2000 81.5
Jun-2000 81.5
Jul-2000 81.3
Aug-2000 81.1
Sep-2000 81.1
Oct-2000 81.1
Nov-2000 81.3
Dec-2000 81.4
Jan-2001 81.4
Feb-2001 81.3
Mar-2001 81.3
Apr-2001 80.9
May-2001 80.8
Jun-2001 80.6
Jul-2001 80.5
Aug-2001 80.2
Sep-2001 80.2
Oct-2001 79.9
Nov-2001 79.7
Dec-2001 79.8
Jan-2002 79.6
Feb-2002 79.8
Mar-2002 79.6
Apr-2002 79.5
May-2002 79.4
Jun-2002 79.2
Jul-2002 79.1
Aug-2002 79.3
Sep-2002 79.4
Oct-2002 79.2
Nov-2002 78.8
Dec-2002 79
Jan-2003 78.9
Feb-2003 78.9
Mar-2003 79
Apr-2003 79.1
May-2003 78.9
Jun-2003 78.9
Jul-2003 78.8
Aug-2003 78.7
Sep-2003 78.6%
Oct-2003 78.6
Nov-2003 78.7
Dec-2003 78.8
Jan-2004 78.9
Feb-2004 78.8
Mar-2004 78.7
Apr-2004 78.9
May-2004 79
Jun-2004 79.1
Jul-2004 79.2
Aug-2004 79
Sep-2004 79
Oct-2004 79
Nov-2004 79.1
Dec-2004 78.9
Jan-2005 79.2
Feb-2005 79.2
Mar-2005 79.2
Apr-2005 79.4
May-2005 79.5
Jun-2005 79.2
Jul-2005 79.4
Aug-2005 79.6
Sep-2005 79.4
Oct-2005 79.3
Nov-2005 79.2
Dec-2005 79.3
Jan-2006 79.6
Feb-2006 79.7
Mar-2006 79.8
Apr-2006 79.6
May-2006 79.7
Jun-2006 79.8
Jul-2006 79.8
Aug-2006 79.8
Sep-2006 79.9
Oct-2006 80.1
Nov-2006 80
Dec-2006 80.1
Jan-2007 80.3%
Feb-2007 80.1
Mar-2007 80.2
Apr-2007 80
May-2007 80
Jun-2007 79.9
Jul-2007 79.8
Aug-2007 79.8
Sep-2007 79.7
Oct-2007 79.6
Nov-2007 79.7
Dec-2007 79.7
Jan-2008 80
Feb-2008 79.9
Mar-2008 79.8
Apr-2008 79.6
May-2008 79.5
Jun-2008 79.4
Jul-2008 79.2
Aug-2008 78.8
Sep-2008 78.8
Oct-2008 78.4
Nov-2008 78.1
Dec-2008 77.6
Jan-2009 77
Feb-2009 76.7
Mar-2009 76.2
Apr-2009 76.2
May-2009 75.9
Jun-2009 75.9
Jul-2009 75.8
Aug-2009 75.6
Sep-2009 75.1
Oct-2009 75
Nov-2009 75.2
Dec-2009 74.8%
Jan-2010 75.1
Feb-2010 75.1
Mar-2010 75.1
Apr-2010 75.4
May-2010 75.1
Jun-2010 75.2
Jul-2010 75.1
Aug-2010 75
Sep-2010 75.1
Oct-2010 75
Nov-2010 74.8%
Dec-2010 75
Jan-2011 75.2
Feb-2011 75.1
Mar-2011 75.3
Apr-2011 75.1
May-2011 75.2
Jun-2011 75
Jul-2011 75
Aug-2011 75.1
Sep-2011 74.9
Oct-2011 74.9
Nov-2011 75.3
Dec-2011 75.4
Jan-2012 75.5
Feb-2012 75.5
Mar-2012 75.7
Apr-2012 75.7
May-2012 75.7
Jun-2012 75.6
Jul-2012 75.6
Aug-2012 75.7
Sep-2012 76
Oct-2012 76.1
Nov-2012 75.8
Dec-2012 76
Jan-2013 75.6
Feb-2013 75.8
Mar-2013 75.8
Apr-2013 75.8
May-2013 76
Jun-2013 75.9
Jul-2013 76
Aug-2013 76
Sep-2013 76
Oct-2013 75.6
Nov-2013 76.1
Dec-2013 76.1
Jan-2014 76.4
Feb-2014 76.4
Mar-2014 76.6
Apr-2014 76.5
May-2014 76.4
Jun-2014 76.9
Jul-2014 76.7
Aug-2014 76.8
Sep-2014 76.8
Oct-2014 76.9
Nov-2014 76.9
Dec-2014 77.1
Jan-2015 77.1
Feb-2015 77.2
Mar-2015 77.2
Apr-2015 77.2
May-2015 77.2
Jun-2015 77.4
Jul-2015 77.1
Aug-2015 77.2
Sep-2015 77.2
Oct-2015 77.2
Nov-2015 77.4
Dec-2015 77.4
Jan-2016 77.7
Feb-2016 77.8
Mar-2016 78
Apr-2016 77.8
May-2016 77.8
Jun-2016 77.9
Jul-2016 77.9
Aug-2016 77.8
Sep-2016 78
Oct-2016 78.2
Nov-2016 78.1
Dec-2016 78.1
Jan-2017 78.2
Feb-2017 78.4
Mar-2017 78.5
Apr-2017 78.6
May-2017 78.4
Jun-2017 78.6
Jul-2017 78.6
Aug-2017 78.4
Sep-2017 78.9
Oct-2017 78.9
Nov-2017 79
Dec-2017 79.1% 
ChartData Download data

The data below can be saved or copied directly into Excel.

Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey public data

Copy the code below to embed this chart on your website.

Year-over-year nominal hourly wages grew at 2.5 percent in December. The figure below shows nominal wage growth over the last 10 years. Wage growth remains below levels consistent with the Fed’s target inflation rate and trend productivity growth, and is simply not putting worrisome upward pressure on inflation. The labor market—and surely the workers in it—can withstand stronger wage growth for a sustained period of time. Wages will rise faster when employers need to compete more for workers, rather than the other way around.

Nominal wage growth has been far below target in the recovery: Year-over-year change in private-sector nominal average hourly earnings, 2007–2017

Date All nonfarm employees Production/nonsupervisory workers
Mar-2007 3.44% 4.17%
Apr-2007 3.13% 3.85%
May-2007 3.53% 4.14%
Jun-2007 3.61% 4.13%
Jul-2007 3.25% 4.05%
Aug-2007 3.35% 4.04%
Sep-2007 3.09% 4.09%
Oct-2007 3.03% 3.72%
Nov-2007 3.07% 3.89%
Dec-2007 2.92% 3.75%
Jan-2008 2.91% 3.80%
Feb-2008 2.85% 3.79%
Mar-2008 3.04% 3.71%
Apr-2008 2.89% 3.70%
May-2008 3.07% 3.69%
Jun-2008 2.67% 3.62%
Jul-2008 3.05% 3.67%
Aug-2008 3.33% 3.89%
Sep-2008 3.28% 3.70%
Oct-2008 3.32% 3.93%
Nov-2008 3.50% 3.80%
Dec-2008 3.59% 3.90%
Jan-2009 3.58% 3.72%
Feb-2009 3.43% 3.65%
Mar-2009 3.28% 3.53%
Apr-2009 3.37% 3.35%
May-2009 2.93% 3.11%
Jun-2009 2.88% 2.88%
Jul-2009 2.69% 2.76%
Aug-2009 2.44% 2.64%
Sep-2009 2.44% 2.75%
Oct-2009 2.53% 2.68%
Nov-2009 2.15% 2.73%
Dec-2009 1.96% 2.50%
Jan-2010 2.09% 2.66%
Feb-2010 2.09% 2.55%
Mar-2010 1.81% 2.27%
Apr-2010 1.81% 2.38%
May-2010 1.90% 2.54%
Jun-2010 1.76% 2.53%
Jul-2010 1.85% 2.42%
Aug-2010 1.75% 2.36%
Sep-2010 1.84% 2.19%
Oct-2010 1.93% 2.51%
Nov-2010 1.79% 2.18%
Dec-2010 1.74% 2.02%
Jan-2011 1.92% 2.17%
Feb-2011 1.83% 2.06%
Mar-2011 1.83% 2.06%
Apr-2011 1.87% 2.11%
May-2011 2.04% 2.05%
Jun-2011 2.13% 2.05%
Jul-2011 2.30% 2.26%
Aug-2011 1.95% 1.99%
Sep-2011 1.94% 1.99%
Oct-2011 2.07% 1.72%
Nov-2011 1.98% 1.82%
Dec-2011 2.07% 1.87%
Jan-2012 1.79% 1.40%
Feb-2012 1.79% 1.45%
Mar-2012 2.14% 1.71%
Apr-2012 2.09% 1.65%
May-2012 1.74% 1.44%
Jun-2012 1.96% 1.54%
Jul-2012 1.69% 1.33%
Aug-2012 1.86% 1.33%
Sep-2012 1.99% 1.38%
Oct-2012 1.51% 1.28%
Nov-2012 1.94% 1.43%
Dec-2012 2.11% 1.58%
Jan-2013 2.06% 1.89%
Feb-2013 2.19% 2.04%
Mar-2013 1.88% 1.88%
Apr-2013 1.97% 1.78%
May-2013 2.14% 1.93%
Jun-2013 2.17% 2.03%
Jul-2013 2.04% 2.03%
Aug-2013 2.26% 2.23%
Sep-2013 2.08% 2.28%
Oct-2013 2.25% 2.27%
Nov-2013 2.20% 2.37%
Dec-2013 1.98% 2.26%
Jan-2014 2.02% 2.31%
Feb-2014 2.23% 2.50%
Mar-2014 2.14% 2.35%
Apr-2014 2.01% 2.40%
May-2014 2.13% 2.44%
Jun-2014 2.00% 2.34%
Jul-2014 2.09% 2.38%
Aug-2014 2.21% 2.43%
Sep-2014 2.04% 2.27%
Oct-2014 2.03% 2.27%
Nov-2014 2.03% 2.21%
Dec-2014 1.86% 1.92%
Jan-2015 2.19% 2.01%
Feb-2015 1.93% 1.61%
Mar-2015 2.22% 2.00%
Apr-2015 2.26% 2.00%
May-2015 2.30% 2.14%
Jun-2015 2.09% 1.99%
Jul-2015 2.21% 2.04%
Aug-2015 2.24% 2.08%
Sep-2015 2.32% 2.13%
Oct-2015 2.56% 2.32%
Nov-2015 2.39% 2.12%
Dec-2015 2.52% 2.56%
Jan-2016 2.51% 2.45%
Feb-2016 2.38% 2.45%
Mar-2016 2.45% 2.44%
Apr-2016 2.61% 2.58%
May-2016 2.52% 2.33%
Jun-2016 2.64% 2.52%
Jul-2016 2.76% 2.61%
Aug-2016 2.55% 2.46%
Sep-2016 2.75% 2.65%
Oct-2016 2.74% 2.50%
Nov-2016 2.65% 2.50%
Dec-2016 2.85% 2.54%
Jan-2017 2.56% 2.39%
Feb-2017 2.84% 2.48%
Mar-2017 2.63% 2.34%
Apr-2017 2.51% 2.33%
May-2017 2.46% 2.37%
Jun-2017 2.54% 2.32%
Jul-2017 2.64% 2.32%
Aug-2017 2.64% 2.41%
Sep-2017 2.79% 2.49%
Oct-2017 2.36% 2.21%
Nov-2017 2.43% 2.25%
Dec-2017 2.50% 2.29%
ChartData Download data

The data below can be saved or copied directly into Excel.

*Nominal wage growth consistent with the Federal Reserve Board's 2 percent inflation target, 1.5 percent productivity growth, and a stable labor share of income.

Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Employment Statistics public data series

Copy the code below to embed this chart on your website.