Despite a tightening labor market, wage growth has remained sluggish. Against this trend, 10 large cities have passed $15-an-hour minimum wages, in addition to the state of California. New York has set a $15 minimum for fast-food workers, and Massachusetts for home health workers. In Tuesday's elections, two red states — Arkansas and Missouri — passed higher hourly minimums of $11 and $12, respectively.
By the numbers: Wages have risen by 3.1% year on year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week — well below the 3.5% to 4% they routinely increased during the tight labor markets of the 1990s and 2000s.
The backdrop: Labor's share of national income has plunged since 2000, according to the St. Louis Fed, and wages have been largely flat since. The rise in corporate profit is far outrunning labor income, the Fed branch said. (h/t Heather Long).
The tipping point for the pushback was the 2016 elections, in which Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders made a $15 minimum his central plank — more than double the $7.25 federal minimum.
Between the lines: Leading economists are not convinced that the hikes — in both red and blue states — amount to a nascent pro-labor public groundswell.
Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, tells Axios that the economic and public policy environments have become decidedly less favorable for labor.
"A lot has changed," Krueger said. "Unions are weaker and the chance of unionization is lower; labor laws, such as an emphasis on arbitration over allowing the courts to adjudicate enforce workers’ rights, have shifted against workers; employer concentration has increased, especially in national markets, etc."