As President Trump discussed the U.S. economic strength achieved during his tenure in the Oval Office, he pointed to a “blue-collar boom” that has helped boost wages among the low-income American workers who need it the most.
“Since my election, the net worth of the bottom half of wage-earners has increased by 47 percent – 3 times faster than the increase for the top 1 percent,” Trump said in his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. “After decades of flat and falling incomes, wages are rising fast – and, wonderfully, they are rising fastest for low-income workers, who have seen a 16 percent pay increase since my election.”
Trump added that over the past three years, 3.5 million people have joined the U.S. workforce, as he noted that the unemployment rates across different demographics are near – or at – all-time lows.
According to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, wage growth among low-wage workers has recently outpaced that of high-wage workers. Pay for the bottom quarter of wage earners, for example, rose 4.5 percent in November, compared with 2.9 percent for the highest 25 percent of earners. The data also showed that wage growth during the period among low-skilled workers grew at the same pace as that of high-skill workers.
As reported by The New York Times, recent pay growth among low-wage workers outpaced that of high-wage workers by the widest margin in at least 20 years.
During prior years in the economic recovery, gains had largely been made by those at the higher end of the income scale.
Wage increases among low-wage workers have been attributed to a number of factors, including a strengthening U.S. labor market. With the unemployment rate hovering near multi-decade lows, businesses have to compete for qualified workers – which tends to result in increased pay, even for those in low-skilled and/or low-paying positions.
State and local minimum wage hikes also likely helped. As previously reported by FOX Business, about 20 states raised their minimum wages at the outset of 2020 alone. The federal minimum wage remains unchanged at $7.25 per hour.
In addition to faster wage growth, Trump also said that since he became president, 7 million people have been lifted off food stamps and 10 million people have been lifted off welfare. That compares with the previous administration, under which more than 10 million people were added to the food stamps program, Trump said.
With a theme of “The Great American Comeback,” Trump said economic success has been made possible by reversing the “failed” economic policies of President Barack Obama’s administration.
“Our agenda is relentlessly pro-worker, pro-family, pro-growth, and, most of all, pro-American,” Trump said. “We are advancing with unbridled optimism and lifting high our citizens of every race, color, religion and creed.”
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the fourth quarter of 2019 median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers rose by 4 percent to $936. For the full year, median weekly earnings for men rose by 2.9 percent and by 6.2 percent for women.