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Half of U.S. workers didn't get a pay raise this year

Half of U.S. workers didn't get a boost in pay this year despite the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, a new survey has found.

Overall, 49% of employees enjoyed a salary increase in some form in the last 12 months, up from 38% this time last year, according to a telephone survey of 1,000 people conducted for That's the highest share of workers reporting pay increases since 2016, the survey found. One in 10 workers said they had both landed a raise at their current job and then gotten a new higher-paying job.

Raises were more common for better-paid workers — 55% of those earning at least $50,000 a year enjoyed a bump in pay this year, compared to 43% for those who make less than that. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of workers making less than $30,000 a year reported no positive change in their income,, a provider of personal finance information, found. 

Education was also a factor, with 56% of college graduates reporting they made more money over the past 12 months as opposed to 45% of those without the degree, noted.

The disparity in wage growth is also visible in newly released data for 2018, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The top 1% of earners now make nearly 158% more than they did in 1979, while those in the top 0.1% are raking in 341% more, EPI found. 

By contrast, wages for the bottom 90% of workers grew a total of 24% over that four-decade span, EPI  economist Lawrence Mishel and research assistant Melat Kassa said in a blog post.

Roughly 53 million Americans — 44% of U.S. workers — are defined as "low-wage," according to a November analysis by the Brookings Institution. Their median hourly wage is $10.22, or about $18,000 per year.

Economic Policy Institute
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