It's Time to Ask for a Raise — Paychecks Are Growing at the Fastest Rate in 9 Years

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AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis
If you're one of the many who feels that you're underpaid, federal wage data finally has promising news. Worker wages in the U.S. are rising, according to the data. For the first time in nine years, the wage growth has crossed the three percent mark.
While about 73 percent of managers and executives say that employees at their companies are “paid fairly,” meaning competitively with the marketplace and in line with their contributions, just more than one in three (36 percent) of employees at the same companies agree that they’re paid what they’re worth, according to Payscale research.
But they won't have to worry quite as much as before, as new research suggests that average hourly earnings in October grew 31. percent. Earnings for non-managers (a category the Labor Department calls "production and non-supervisory workers") grew even faster, at 3.2 percent.
"Wage growth is getting faster, but annual growth is probably closer to 2.9 percent than 3.1 percent due to abnormally low wages last October (likely weather related)," said Ben Zipperer, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, on Twitter.
While one month doesn't make the growth a positive trend,  the figures are the latest in a string of encouraging data that suggests that paychecks are indeed getting bigger. The Labor Department also released separate data that suggests salaries in the third quarter were, on average, 2.9 percent higher than last year's. 
"A tight labor market causes employers to compete for the workers they want to attract and retain, and one way they compete is on salary," PNC Senior Economist Bill Adams told CBS. "It's been a very long and frustratingly slow recovery from the Great Recession, but it's improved every year since then, and we're finally in a situation where it's a good labor market for workers again."
PNC predicts that wage growth will reach 3.3 percent next year, especially as the number of job openings has exceeded the number of job seekers since March. There were a seasonally adjusted 7.01 million job openings on the last business day of September, according to the Labor Department. That compares with 5.96 million jobless Americans actively looking for work during the month. In fact, the unemployment rate fell to a 49-year low of 3.7 percent, and the average time to fill vacant job positions reached a record high of 32.3 working days in September, according to a data analysis,. This means that employers have had to work harder to attract talent.
The uneven ratio of job openings to job seekers, coupled with the fact that employers are facing mounting pressure from labor activists and lawmakers like Sen. Bernie Sanders to raise the minimum wage, will affect workers' paychecks. For example, in January, the minimum wage will increase in 18 states.
Whatever is driving rising paychecks, the news is refreshing. Now, researchers are grappling with one burning question: How long will it last?
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog,, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.