Meanwhile, the economy keeps on ticking. On the heels of consecutive, excellent jobs reports and a very strong quarter of GDP growth, CNBC flags another hopeful sign of economic health. One of the metrics on which the US economy has lagged for years is wages. Democrats have been zeroing in on that issue in recent months, arguing that the tax reform law has failed to increase pay for the American workforce, in spite of robust hiring, growth, and the tax relief provided to families and businesses. But the latest numbers point to an encouraging incline on this front, too:
AP report on fastest wage growth since 2008: "...a sign that the low unemployment rate is forcing employers to raise pay to attract and keep workers." https://t.co/4U9734X1ki— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) July 31, 2018
Compensation for workers rose to a nearly 10-year high in the second quarter as inflation pressures continued to percolate in the U.S. economy. The employment cost index increased 0.6 percent for civilian workers in the three-month period ending in June, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics release Tuesday. That brought the 12-month rate up to 2.8 percent, the highest level since 2.9 percent in the third quarter of 2008...However, the ECI has been on a steady rise over the past year and a half. The index had struggled to stay above 2 percent for most of the period following the recession as the Federal Reserve kept interest rates low and inflation stayed well below historical norms. However, the index has been climbing steadily from the 2.2 percent level just prior to President Donald Trump taking office...Wages and salaries rose 0.5 percent for the quarter and 2.8 percent for the 12-month period, while benefits costs increased 0.9 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively...The release comes ahead of Friday's closely watched nonfarm payrolls report. Economists expect a gain of about 190,000 and a 2.7 percent increase in average hourly earnings. It also follows last Friday's robust GDP release, which showed the economy grew 4.1 percent in the second quarter.
Americans are feeling pretty good about the economy in general, with the consumer confidence index again approaching an 18-year peak. Republicans are happily sharing this news, which dovetails nicely with their "better of now" messaging push heading into the midterm elections:
Great news→ Worker pay rates have risen to the highest level since 2008. This morning’s @BLS_gov report shows that worker compensation has been on a steady rise over the past year and a half. America’s workers are #BetterOffNow.https://t.co/7Z5tkCLZix— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) July 31, 2018
Over on the Senate side, Mitch McConnell is also touting the string of good news, while attacking Democrats for universally opposing the pro-growth tax reform law that has helped spur so much of the recent progress. "Not a single one of our colleagues across the aisle voted in support of the historic tax reform that’s helping make these developments possible. So for them, these data are telling an inconvenient truth," he said in a floor speech Tuesday morning:
Many Democrats have excused their 'no' vote by citing a misleading, unrealistic (and fact-checked as such) talking point about "the rich," and by pretending to care about the national debt. May I remind you that even after the tax cuts, government revenue levels (as a percentage of GDP) remain above the modern era average. Letting people keep more of their money is not "spending," but spending is the problem. And how many of the Democrats who feigned concern about a $2 trillion tax cut will sign onto a healthcare scheme that will cost at least $32.6 trillion. Nearly 140 in Congress already have. I'll leave you with a note on the November elections from earlier in the week:
New Senate polls:— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) July 31, 2018
Scott (R) +3 in FL
Heller (R) +1 in NV https://t.co/23QjX7lIYP
The lefty media is spinning the Nevada number as something of an outlier, and noting that hovering in the low 40's is a very bad spot for an incumbent. But they're also arguing that the Florida survey is actually good news for the longtime Democratic incumbent who's polling in the low-40's because he's "only" trailing by three points, despite being heavily outspent. Part of the reason he's being heavily outspent is because Rick Scott is running an energetic campaign that's attracting tons of donations; meanwhile, Floridians don't know who Bill Nelson is, even though he's represented them for multiple Senate terms.