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Here’s How Much Money the Average Worker Lost in 2021 Thanks to Inflation

Private sector employees took the equivalent of a 2.4% pay cut in 2021 due to rising prices, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Amid a lot of confusing economic indicators, this is one number Americans can feel.


While wage growth hit a historic high last year, workers still lost income because raises were outstripped by inflation Newsweek reported, citing BLS data.

The typical worker, who made roughly $31 an hour in 2021, lost nearly a dollar in hourly earnings due to inflation.

  • Painful price hikes include to gas (up 50%), used cars (up 40%) and grocery prices (up 20%).


Economic journalist Josh Barro noted in his Very Serious newsletter Tuesday that inflation isn’t the only reason for public dissatisfaction amid generally positive economic data.

  • “Longer wait times for products and services, workers having to wear masks all day, angry customers losing it at workers more often — this is all part of the economic experience and people don’t like it. And it’s not effectively counted in the economic data,” he wrote.
  • “How do you adjust airfares for the fact that beverage service is cut back and you have to wear a mask through the whole flight? Is the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracking whether restaurants are serving your meals with plastic utensils, or not giving you paper menus, or requiring you to place your whole order at once? These deteriorations in the consumer experience generally aren’t counted in the inflation data, but people notice them as consumers and aren’t happy.”

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