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[Excerpt] Productivity growth increased substantially in the 1990s. For each hour that a worker spends on the job, more is being produced. The higher productivity has lowered costs and boosted company revenues, but workers have not shared in the gains. Higher productivity means that workers should be experiencing a faster rise in real wages than in past decades. When productivity grows, employers, in general, have the ability to grant wage increases above the rate of inflation, and realize higher profits at the same time. But productivity growth in recent decades has not led to higher wages as it should. Instead, the buying power of workers has declined as employers continue to make every effort to hold down wages. In contrast to the situation of workers, profits and executive salaries are increasing at a startling rate. The benefits of rising productivity have been captured by the richest Americans, who have allowed nothing to trickle down to the rest.


Suggested Citation
Cunningham, B. (1996). Productivity grows, but workers don’t share (AFL-CIO Reviews the Issues, Report No. 87). Retrieved [insert date] from Cornell University, ILR School site:

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Copyright by the AFL-CIO. Document posted with special permission by the copyright holder.