The June employment report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed strong job growth – 222,000 – and a 0.1 percent rise in the unemployment rate to 4.4 percent, as more job-seekers entered the labor force. But the rise in average hourly earnings was anemic—up 0.2 percent month over month, 2.5 percent year over year. As the labor market approaches full employment, economists expect wages to rise significantly faster than overall inflation. Faced with labor shortages and unfilled positions, employers usually increase salaries to attract and retain qualified workers. That has not happened so far at this late stage of the economic recovery. Some employers say they are raising wages, but not more than their competitors, so as not to be priced out of the market in a low-inflation environment where increased costs are hard to pass on to customers.
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