U.S. lags other countries in wage growth

Paul Davidson

Since the Great Recession, America’s pay increases have stacked up poorly compared to other developed countries.

Eight years after Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy filing signaled the start of the financial crisis, the U.S. has posted the worst salary recovery among developed Group of 20, or G-20 countries, according to executive search firm Korn Ferry's Hay Group unit.

U.S. salaries have fallen 3.1% after adjusting for inflation since Lehman’s bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008, the study says. That’s the worst among the G-20, which also includes the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

Hay Group didn’t review all jobs in these economies but rather sampled the entry-level, mid-level and senior manager jobs it tracks globally. The firm says that allowed it to conduct a valid comparison that wouldn’t have been possible by analyzing government data, which is collected differently in each country.

Canada notched the best pay recovery among the nations, with inflation-adjusted salaries rising 7.2% since 2008. Pay rose 5.9% in Australia, 5.2% in France, 5% in Germany and 2.4% in Italy. Salaries fell 0.1% in the UK.

America’s poor performance can partly be traced to its preponderance of jobs in low-wage sectors such as retail, restaurants and hotels, and healthcare, says Benjamin Frost, a Korn Ferry product manager.

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