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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 Bankrate.com. 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, Bankrate.com, 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, Bankrate.com 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.

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Economic Policy Institute
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