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May 31

Productivity and Pay: Do Workers Enjoy the Fruits of their Labor?

Do workers enjoy the fruits of their labor? Economic theory predicts that firms pay workers according to their productivity. Some analysts argue this no longer happens in the United States. They contend that workers’ pay has stagnated for the past generation despite large increases in productivity. This belief drives much of the Obama Administration’s regulatory agenda. Labor Secretary Tom Perez explains the newly released salaried overtime regulations are intended ensure that “as we have productivity and profitability in this country, that is shared between business and workers.”

New research from The Heritage Foundation finds that is already happening. Since 1973 average hourly labor productivity has grown 81 percent. Over the same period employees’ average hourly compensation has grown 78 percent. Employee pay closely tracks productivity growth. The studies finding otherwise compare the productivity and pay of different groups of workers, adjust pay and productivity for inflation differently, and contain mathematical errors. These factors cause the apparent gap between pay and productivity reported.

Join us as the author of this report and researchers from the Mercatus Center and Manhattan Institute discuss these findings and their implications for the economy.

More About the Speakers

Scott Winship
Walter B. Wriston Fellow, Manhattan Institute

Veronique de Rugy
Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center

Hosted By

James Sherk James Sherk

Research Fellow, Labor Economics Read More