Cheat Sheet Q&A:  How does the \$22 hourly salary in 2009 compare to the \$24 today?

Today’s entry:

I heard your segment this morning on the increase in average hourly wage from \$22 to \$24 over the last 5-7 years (9.1%).  But I may have missed something.  I believe you were trying to tie it in to the decrease in full time employees and increase in part time employees.

You did not say anything about the difference in the cost of living over the time period (many things that cost \$22 back in “the good old days” cost more than \$24 now (Cumulative rate of inflation 2008-2014 = 10.7%)(bls.gov inflation calculator).  Gasoline alone has increased 125% or more (January 2009-August 2014) even though adjusted for inflation it cost about the same as it did in 2009.  We also need to remember that full time jobs come with benefits that part time jobs do not so a part time worker has to pay out of pocket for the benefits a full time employee may not.

But if the average hourly wage for a person working a full time job then was \$22 (\$22 X 40 = \$880) and if the average wage now is \$24 (\$24 X 35 = \$840), I assume any hourly increase is more than offset by loss of weekly hours, loss of benefits and cost of living.  35 hours is generous for part-time work I used 30 hours even though it may only be 20 hours (I think you used 35 hours for your 19.1% participation rate of part time employees.

I guess my question is this:  How can you compare an hourly wage change without taking into account the loss of weekly wages due to part-time work, loss of employer-paid benefits and the cost of living?

Bottom Line:  (Applauds).  That’s terrific analysis.  This entry is in response to my recent analysis that has demonstrated that part-time jobs as a total composition of all employment in the US has grown from 13-14% by the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, to 19-20% today.  Meanwhile the average hourly income across all jobs (full & part-time) has increased from \$22 in July 2009 to \$24.45 today.  So to part of the question – how does the base wage compare when you adjust for inflation of the past 5 years?

• You’d need to earn \$24.44 today to equal the buying power of the \$22 in 2009

So back to the current average income…

• The average hourly salary for all employed in the US is \$24.45

So the average person on a gross salary basis is literally 1 cent better off today vs. 5 years ago today.  Now with regard to the lost benefits and hours associated with full time income…  There isn’t any comparison.  That was the point of my initial entry on this subject last week.  Far too many economists and reporters myopically look at jobs numbers and treat them as though a job is a job.  We know that’s not the case of course.  While the average hourly salary may be the same, for the 6% or so who used to work full-time with benefits, are clearly much worse off working part-time without them.

If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me:  brianmudd@clearchannel.com

Audio Report:

The digital personal assistant that's an actual person 24/7:

Bottom Line:  You’re likely familiar with Siri or Google Voice.  Digital personal assistants have become a standard part of our mobile lives.  The technology is improving and with an 87% success rate in answering questions, most of the time you’ll obtain the info you’re looking for…  but it’s still not as precise as an actual person who knows what they’re talking about right?  Well there is now a free solution that’s available for iOS (Apple) and Android based devices.  It’s OOLOO.

OOLOO is a free app that allows you to voice or text questions.  It’s staffed with real people 24/7.  In testing the app it works with the average response being received in less than a minute.  Just remember…  It’s a real person you’re asking the questions…  So a little decorum might be in order…

Audio Report:

A lack of layoffs may be the real story of 2014's job market:

Bottom Line:  Many of the usual economic reporters and analysts have suggested that hiring has significantly picked up in recent months.  The effect is that we’re averaging more than 200,000 jobs being added per month rather than the mid-100’s of the past few years.  While I have seen an increase in job postings in recent months, I really haven’t seen much of a pickup in actual hiring.  That led me to believe that perhaps the story is more a function of fewer people being laid off.  Here’s what I found…

• We’ve averaged 96,000 fewer layoffs per month through the first six months of 2014 vs. the first six months of 2013

So that does appear to be the reason for the improving jobs numbers.  So the good news is that if you’re already employed, your odds of retaining employment are significantly improved over last year.  Now if we were to see an appreciable pickup in hiring activity combined with the fewer layoffs we could have impressive job growth (300k+ per month) begin to occur.

Audio Report:

How much are closing costs these days & what can we expect in Florida?:

Bottom Line:  Bankrate.com just completed a nationwide review of closing costs.  They compared the costs associated on a hypothetical \$200k mortgage.

So here’s the breakdown on closing costs when buying a home:

• Nationwide average \$2539
• Florida has the 8th highest average closing costs in the country @ \$2648
• Texas had the highest @ \$3046 & Nevada the lowest @ \$2265

So you can see that there is still a fairly tight range with closing costs.  You can use it as a guide to ensure that you’re not being taken advantage of through extraordinary closing costs.  The average in Florida is 1.3% of the mortgage.

Audio Report:

What browser do you use?  2014 has been a year of significant change perhaps driven by a political game and reaction.

Bottom Line:  We are very reluctant to change our online habits.  For example…  What email address do you primarily use?  How long have you been using that email address?  When it comes to browsers we use to access the internet there has been one constant since Microsoft’s Internet Explorer passed Netscape in 1998.  IE has been the most used browser.  Additionally Firefox has been second in market share since its inception.  Well times have changed.  Microsoft is still on top but Chrome has suddenly taken significant market share from Firefox.

• In January IE had 58% market share
• Today IE has 58% market share

• In January Safari had 5% market share
• Today Safari has 5% market share

• All other browsers (aside from Chrome & Firefox) had 1.5% market share in January
• All others have 1.4% market share today

So you can see how little change there generally is with browser usage.  We pick one we like and stay with it.  Now let’s look at Chrome and Firefox

• In January Chrome had 16% market share & was the #3 browser
• Today Chrome has 20% market share & is the #2 browser

• In January Firefox had 18% market share and was the #2 browser
• Today Firefox has 15% market share and is the #3 browser

Its note worthy that we’ve had steady monthly declined in Firefox usage.  So what’s changed?  Perhaps it’s explainable through a political decision made by Firefox’s parent Mozilla.  You may recall that early this year activists dug up a donation made by the CEO of Mozilla (several years earlier) to support the California state ban on homosexual marriage.  The activists tried to create controversy over it and put pressure on Mozilla to fire the CEO for that donation.  They did.  Clearly the results haven’t been effective for the company.  It appears likely that the cave in to political correctness has backfired on Mozilla and its Firefox browser.  There is a lesson to be learned about quick decisions being made along politically correct lines in business.

Audio Report: