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Official data debunks Dem talking point: Low-income workers' wages rising faster than top-earners' salaries


Low unemployment under Trump is driving up wages

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The lowest-earning American workers saw bigger income gains than top-earning professionals over the past year, according to new economic data released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

The Federal Reserve reported that median wage growth for the bottom 25% of workers hit 4.5% for the 12-month period ending in November. According to CBS News, this exceeded the 2.9% gain in median earnings for the top 25% of earners.

The Fed's economic data contradicts claims by leading 2020 Democrats who say the economy under President Trump has left behind lower and middle-income families.

What's driving higher wages?

Economic analysts attribute the gains among low-income workers to record-low unemployment figures under President Trump, though the data show the wage trend began in 2014.

"The challenge of filling jobs requiring few skills is something we have been hearing about a lot recently from the businesses we talk to," noted John Robertson, a senior policy adviser in the Atlanta Fed's research department, in a blog post about the data.

"However, several state and local governments have increased the minimum wage in recent years, which would also push up the relative pay for those in the lowest-paid jobs," he added.

Robertson also said that minimum wage hikes may be a factor, too.

"[T]he increased tightness of labor markets, or some other factor than hikes in state minimum wages, is playing a role in pushing up the pay for those in lower-wage jobs," he noted.

Trump receives high marks on the economy

A December CNBC All-America Economic Survey found that 49% of Americans approve of the president's handling of the economy, a 7-point improvement for Trump from September and his highest marks in a year.

Political analysts say that the strong economy is boosting the president's re-election chances heading into 2020.

"If the status quo continues, he'll win," said Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, referring to a presidential prediction model he has developed based on a variety of economic factors, as well as the president's approval rating and projected voter turnout levels.

Another survey, by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, found that 52% of Americans approve of Trump's handling of the economy. This figure is higher than Trump's overall approval rating, which indicates that low unemployment levels, stable gas prices, and a roaring stock market could help get the president across the finish line next year.

A recent poll by Quinnipiac University found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans say they are better off financially now than they were in 2016.

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