More than once it has been asserted in this list that the living 
standards of the working class in the USA and the UK suffered a 
deep fall since the early 70's. Yet, this is not what the available 
statistics on real wages (that is to say, the nominal wages divided 
by the cost of living index, or the wages in terms of use values) 
seem to reflect.

In the case of the USA, there is a fall of less than 10% from the 
70ís to the 90ís, of which 6% corresponds to the fall from the 80's 
to the 90's. But the wage level in the latter equals that of the 
supposedly unbeaten 60ís.

In the case of the UK, far from falling, along the 90ís the real wages 
have been 54% above the 60ís, 26% above the 70ís and 17% above 
the 80's (perhaps the UK rises include some extension of the 
working day, since the data are computed on a monthly basis, but 
that eventuality is far from being able to account for the magnitude 
of the increase).  

To emphasize the contrast between the evolution of real wages in 
the UK and in the USA against what happened in countries where 
the accumulation of capital takes a different specific shape, I 
include the data for Argentina. Here, the real industrial wages 
ceased to rise in the first half of the 70ís, and have fallen in the 90ís 
28% from the 60ís, 26% from the average 70ís, and 20% from the 
80's (and the monthly industrial registered wages certainly include 
an extension of the working day, and are not the ones that have 
suffered the greatest fall).  

Sources of nominal wages and CPI:
(1) USA: average hourly earnings of production workers in 
manufacturing, BLS  
(2) UK: average monthly wages, IMF  
(3) Argentina: average monthly wages in manufacturing, INDEC  

Real wages data (1960/64=100):  

               USA        UK        Arg.  
60-64        100        100        100  
65-69        107        113        118  
70-74        113        135        122  
75-79        117        137          90  
80-84        112        137          96  
85-89        110        157          99  
90-95        104        166          79  
95-99        104        178          77  

The relative evolutions do not change in a substantial way if the real 
wages of employed workers are weighted by considering the rate of 
unemployment:

                 USA          UK           Arg.  
60-64          100          100          100  
65-69          109          113          121  
70-74          114          134          124  
75-79          116          135            94  
80-84          109          129            99  
85-89          110          146          100  
90-95          103          155            79  
95-99          105          171            72  

Could the data for the USA and the UK be somehow mistaken or 
misleading? Could it be that the supposed profound fall in the USA 
and UK real wages, and consequently in the living standards of the 
working class in these countries, did not take place (and in the 
latter case, that an important increase occurred)? I look forward to 
the comments of the members of the list that are closer than me to 
these national economies.  


Juan Inigo
[EMAIL PROTECTED]
http://www.clacso.edu.ar/~jinigo

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