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Op-Ed: Faster Growth Is Paying Off for Low-Skilled Workers

This article originally appeared on the Wall Street Journal on June 13, 2019.

With the Democratic presidential campaign under way, get ready to hear a lot about economic inequality. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who’s surging in the polls, has complained about “a rigged system that props up the rich and the powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else.” In reality, the strongest economy in more than a decade is bringing benefits to everyday Americans.

According to an April study by the New York Federal Reserve, the average starting wage offer for full-time employees jumped from $58,035 in November to a series high of $66,415 in March. The average expected likelihood of receiving a job offer was also the highest recorded since the survey began in 2014—and the gain was “most pronounced for respondents without a college degree.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment data have been reflecting significant income growth for working-class Americans for months. With more Americans working than at any time in history, the unemployment rate near a 50-year low, and 14 consecutive months with more job openings than unemployed people, for the first time in decades it’s harder to find blue-collar workers than white-collar ones. This competition for employees is driving wages up, which narrows income inequality.

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