Over Labor Day weekend, the Economic Policy Institute released a handy tool, based on their inequality.is project, that shows you how much you would be making today, if wages had kept up with productivity over that last three decades.
After WWII, wages and productivity grew hand in hand. As workers produced more, they earned more. But as we talked about in our State of Working West Virginia reports and elsewhere, since the late 1970s, workers are working and creating more, but their wages no longer grow along with their productivity. Instead, the rewards of increased productivity and a growing economy have been enjoyed only by the wealthiest among us, creating a growing problem of income inequality.
The tool created by EPI, which you can find here, simply shows how much more you should be making if wages across the economy had continued to grow with productivity since 1979. For example, a median wage earner in West Virginia earned $32,198 in 2012, if they worked full time. But if wages had grown along with increases productivity, that worker should have earned $51,830, a difference of almost $20,000.
In another example, a full-time minimum-wage worker earns $15,080 annually. But if wages grew with productivity, that worker would be earning $27,501, or the equivalent of $13.22 an hour.
Take a look, put in your income, and find out how much you should be making.