A Wall Street Journal analysis cited three reasons for wages' stagnation beyond the recession:
Economic growth, at less than 2 percent for three straight quarters, is too low. Before the recession, it averaged 3.5 percent.
Businesses are managing payrolls differently. Many firms that laid off workers rather than cut wages during the recession are coping now by cutting wages.
Globalization continues to put pressure on wages. The Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2015, some industries will see only a 10 percent difference between wages in the United States and in China.
Long periods of wage stagnation, even as many in corporate America are recording record profits, are a recipe for trouble. That's not an appeal for class warfare. It's an acknowledgment that current economic trends aren't good for this country.
Labor Department data show that average hourly pay for nongovernment, nonmanagement workers declined to $8.77 an hour last month, compared with $8.85 a year earlier.
It's time to turn that trend around. This country's consumer-based economy won't thrive again until workers can afford to spend more of their paychecks on goods and services.
A number of economists are suggesting ways to address America's slumping wages. Among other things, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich suggests eliminating payroll taxes on the first $15,000 in income and requiring companies to spend more of their earnings on upgrading workers' skills.
Perhaps more than anything, perspectives must change. Wage increases must be seen as investments. Well-paid consumers make the purchases needed to keep the U.S. economy humming.