Good news: Paychecks are going up. Bad news: So is inflation

Jan 28, 2022, 9:53 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:21 pm
Commuters wait on platforms for Long Island Rail Road trains at Pennsylvania Station in New York, U...
Commuters wait on platforms for Long Island Rail Road trains at Pennsylvania Station in New York, U.S., on Monday, May 10, 2021. Ridership rates remain low in major U.S. cities, threatening the viability of public transit. Photographer: Amir Hamja/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(CNN) — Americans’ paychecks continued to rise at the end of 2021. But along with that, so did prices.

Compensation for American workers climbed 4% between December 2020 and December 2021, marking the biggest increase since the fourth quarter of 2001, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Private sector workers fared even better, with their compensation rising 4.4% in the same period — the fastest rate since records began in 2001.

Services, hotel and restaurant workers were among the employees getting the biggest raises.

Labor costs in America have risen dramatically last year as businesses struggled to find workers.

But, adjusted for rampant pandemic-era inflation, the salary increases don’t look as shiny anymore. Inflation-adjusted wages and salaries fell by 1.9% for the 12 months ending in December.

And that’s only one of the reasons why they feel so dour about the economy, despite a strong recovery in the labor market and economic activity.

Three-quarters of Americans said they are worried about the state of the economy in their own community, while 63% said the nation’s economy is in poor shape, according to a CNN Poll conducted by SSRS last month.

Eight in 10 people said the rising cost of food and other everyday items is a major problem for the nation’s economy, while 7 in 10 said the same about the jump in gas prices. Other major economic issues cited include disruption in the nation’s supply chain, the rising cost of housing, labor shortages and government spending.

Some 57% said that the economic news they’ve heard lately has been mostly bad, and just 19% said they are hearing mostly good news about the economy right now.

President Joe Biden is not getting high scores for his handling of the economy, with only 30% saying his policies are having a positive impact and 45% saying they’ve worsened conditions.

Some 54% said they disapprove of the way he’s handling the economy generally, an increase of five points since late summer. The same share don’t like how he’s helping the middle class.

–CNN Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

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Good news: Paychecks are going up. Bad news: So is inflation