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Despite wage setbacks, economy is recovering
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Unemployment is down, job openings are up and Wall Street is going strong. So what else needs to happen for the economy to recover? - photo by Matthew Jelalian
A recent Pew Research Center article reports that the U.S. economy in indeed growing and making a resurgence despite some setbacks.

In January, there were 1.8 unemployed people per open position, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (or JOLTS) and jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the article states. While that may sound disheartening, its actually well within pre-recession norms: Between January 2005 and December 2007, the number of unemployed people per opening varied between 1.45 and 2.17, and averaged 1.68 over the entire three-year period.

Pew said the South and the West have enjoyed the largest growth in employment opportunities.

If youre looking for work, service industries in the South and West might be your best bet, wrote Pew. Those regions had the highest job openings rates in January (3.6 percent each), and the sectors with the highest rates were leisure and hospitality (particularly accommodation and food services, at 5.1 percent) and professional and business services (4.5 percent).

Despite the recovery numbers, another Pew article reported that people are still skeptical that the economy is improving, perceiving a few people, but not many, are better off.

The public makes sharp distinctions about which groups have benefited and which have not from the economic policies the government has put in place since the start of the recession, wrote Pew in another article. Majorities say that large banks, large corporations and the wealthy have been helped a great deal or a fair amount by government policies.

By contrast, 72 percent say that, in general, the governments policies since the recession have done little or nothing to help middle class people, and nearly as many say they have provided little or no help for small businesses (68 percent) and the poor (65 percent).

With employment levels continuing to climb it's clear the economy is making a comeback.

Its hard to argue that the labor market isnt improving, the PBS Newshour reported. The unemployment rate is now at 5.5 percent, and the economy added 295,000 jobs in February. The thorn in the side of many a strong jobs report, though, has been wages. Economists expect wages to rise when unemployment falls, and thats just not happening."

But wage growth hasn't kept pace with job growth, according to the article.

Month after month there is the great expectation that wages will finally begin rising and living standards might just begin to inch upward for Everyman on Main Street. And month after month there is great disappointment.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the slow wage growth is because businesses didn't cut back enough on wages during the great recession, which is forcing employers to hire people at lower pay until the difference between wages-lost and profits-earned is recovered.

Firms are doing this by way of not offering wage rises and by hiring more slowly than history suggests would be likely given the U.S. economys rate of growth. Until this plays out, many workers in the U.S. economy will struggle to find higher wages, in a process that is likely to continue until labor markets have fully returned to normal, said bank economists Mary Daly and Bart Hobijn.