« Back to Publications

This is what policymakers can and can’t do about low wage growth

Michael Keating writes in The Conversation (17.8.18) that governments can’t undo the technological changes behind frozen wages and rising inequality. The best policy, according to the author, is to invest in education and training to give workers skills of value in the new economy.

‘Increased inequality and low wage growth are constraining economic growth. But why is wage growth so low? And how should policymakers respond?

‘Income inequality has increased significantly in most advanced economies since the early 1980s. In particular, very low rates of wage increase are widely blamed for the weak growth in aggregate demand this century and secular stagnation since the Global Financial Crisis. The GFC was itself brought on by the rise in consumer debt that was used at first to support demand in an attempt to offset the impact of weak wage growth.

‘Fairfax columnist Ross Gittins recently noted that “many economists were disappointed by this week’s news … that consumer prices rose only 2.1%”. That was because low inflation is “usually a symptom of weak growth in economic activity and, in particular, of weak growth in wages”.

‘… Thus, today it is widely agreed that wages need to increase faster. The OECD, the IMF, leading US scholars, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, Nobel prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and most recently Stephen Bell and I in our book, Fair Share, have all argued that increasing inequality is bad for economic growth.

‘To solve this problem, the critical issue for policymakers is what is causing this rising inequality and weak wage growth? Unless we better understand the causes, we are unlikely to achieve an effective policy solution.’

The TJRyan Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of any information or material available on this website. The TJRyan Foundation reserves the right to change information or material on this website at any time without notice. Links from this site to external, non-TJRyan Foundation websites should not be construed as implying any relationship with and/or endorsement of the external site or its content by the TJR Foundation, nor any commercial relationship with the owners of any external site. Should any TJRyan research project be funded by an individual or organisation the source of funding will be stated beside the research report. In all other cases contributions are provided on a pro bono basis.
Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get notified about new articles

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.