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Americans’ wages just hit an all-time high

Some good news.

The inflation adjusted weekly income of the typical full-time American worker hit an all-time high in the third quarter of 2016, according to data released yesterday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Median weekly earnings had been approximately stagnant for the first 15 years of the 21st century. (They spiked temporarily during the Great Recession because low-wage workers were disproportionately likely to be laid off.) But earnings have rebounded sharply over the past 18 months. That’s a mix of an improving labor market giving workers some bargaining power and cheap energy prices keeping inflation low.

This is a slightly different finding from the Census Bureau’s report in September that median household income surged in 2015. The Census looks at all households, whether they’re working or unemployed or retired, while the BLS looks only at individuals who have a job. But the two reports point in the same direction — the economy is getting stronger for ordinary people.

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