Americans’ after-inflation wages have dropped by almost 3 percent since President Barack Obama’s inauguration, according to a new analysis by a left-wing advocacy group.
The biggest drop was felt by lower-income workers, while upper-income professionals were hit by a 2 percent drop. The study was released by the National Employment Law Project, which is headed by left-wing employment lawyers, union officials and a former economist in Obama’s White House, Jared Bernstein.
The biggest hits — minus 4.1 percent — were taken by people who earn between $10.61 and $14.21, an hour, said the analysis of federal data.
Several job categories suffered even greater losses. “Real median wages fell by 5.0 percent or more in five of the top ten lower-wage occupations: restaurant cooks, food preparation workers, home health aides, personal care aides, and maids and housekeepers,” said a statement from the NELP group.
Wages fell amid a cumulative productivity increase of 4.5 percent, according to NELP. “Workers are producing more goods and services per hour but earning less than they were when the recovery began,” the group declared. Productivity is growing because companies are using high-tech gear — especially computers — to augment or replace labor.
The unwelcome analysis isn’t likely to get much promotion by progressive groups, partly because it happened on Obama’s watch, but also because it arrives in the middle of a push to double the inflow of low-skill immigrants, many of whom choose to work in the hardest-hit job categories.
In fact, many progressives and business-advocates suggest that high levels of low-skill immigration will boost wages for low-skilled Americans.
“If we don’t do anything to fix our broken system … We won’t benefit from highly-skilled immigrants starting businesses and creating jobs [and] American workers will have to make due with lower wages and fewer protections,” President Barack Obama said during his July 13 weekly address.
A controversial bill passed in late June by the Senate would double the immigration rate, and would add 46 million immigrants by 2033. House GOP leaders are debating their response, amid widespread opposition from the GOP’s base.
An increasing number of conservatives and academics argue that large-scale immigration has been harmful to Americans outside the top ranks of society and the economy.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, for example, says the defeat of a proposed immigration rewrite would help boost wages and make the GOP more popular among low-income and mid-income Americans, including Latinos and African-Americans.
“The Republican Platform should include a line that says we will promote an immigration policy that serves and honors the American worker and the American taxpayers,” he said in a June 13 speech in Alabama. “No political party can have as its goal lower wages for its country,” he said.
Since 2000, the nation’s working-age immigrant population has grown by 8.8 million, and the number of working immigrants has grown 5.3 million, according to a July 3 report by the Center for Immigration Studies.