Bagel chain in California tells the tale of rising wages

After many years of falling jobless rates, wages look like they are finally going up, according to data and stories from the ground.
February 9, 2018

Transcript

Ten million jobs added in the U.S. in the past four years. A 17-year low unemployment rate. But wages have been a disappointment and puzzled economists.

But things look like they're finally changing.

(REPORTER'S BRIDGE) ANN SAPHIR, REUTERS REPORTER (ENGLISH) SAYING:

"I'm Reuters’ Ann Saphir here in Oakland, where the unemployment rate has been falling for years, and yet wages have really not done that much, until recently. We think we've hit a turning point. I'm here at the latest Noah's bagels to open in California."

Over half of this bagel chain's 53 stores in California now pay their new hires more than the legal minimum wage. That's twice as many as in mid-2017.

Tyler Ricks is the president.

(SOUNDBITE) TYLER RICKS, PRESIDENT, NOAH'S BAGELS (ENGLISH) SAYING:

"It's our biggest challenge, to be honest with you. The labour market is very tight, especially in parts of California, you know, down in the Silicon Valley, the city of San Francisco, Oakland/Berkeley, have been, you know, very difficult to find employees. We have definitely seen that we have had to increase our starting wage, even above minimum wage in many areas, to be able to attract and bring in the right talent."

And he expects to hike pay further this year as he opens five new stores.

The bagel shop isn't alone. Data and other businesses Reuters spoke to paint a picture of rising wages across the board.

Average pay was up by three per cent or more in at least half of U.S. states last year — much better than before — and the number of states with record low jobless rates also jumped in 2017.

President Donald Trump, of course, is claiming the credit.

(SOUNDBITE) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (ENGLISH) SAYING:

"We are finally seeing rising wages."

Although businesses are mixed about how much credit goes to Trump, one thing they are clear about: They'll be paying more to find workers.

— Jane Lee, Reuters