A recent analysis by the National Employment Law Project asserts that manufacturing wages are declining, and employees in the sector are falling behind their peers in other industries. The reality is that manufacturing continues to be a pathway to the Middle Class for millions of Americans, with compensation that is rising, not falling, in recent years.
According to data from the BLS, average weekly earnings for manufacturing employees have increased from $847.60 in January 2007 to $1,018.37 in October 2014, a gain of 20.1 percent. Over the past two years, average weekly earnings have grown 5.1 percent, or roughly twice the rate of consumer prices (which were up 2.6 percent over that time frame). On an hourly basis, the average manufacturing worker earned just shy of $25 per hour in October, up from $21.19 in January 2007 or $23.92 two years ago.
Moreover, total compensation (which includes benefits, as well as wages and salaries) in manufacturing has risen from $32.20 per hour worked in the first quarter of 2010 to $35.74 in the second quarter of 2014. On a year-over-year basis, total compensation has grown 5.6 percent. In annual terms, the average manufacturing worker earned $77,506 in 2013, or almost $15,000 more than the overall average for all industries.
Overall, manufacturing workers continue to receive excellent compensation, which has risen steadily in recent years.
Chad Moutray is the Chief Economist for the National Association of Manufacturers.