Just as federal workers received partial or zeroed-out paychecks Friday as the government shutdown drags on, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said the real average hourly earnings for all U.S. employees, which accounts for inflation, nudged up 0.5 percent from November to December of 2018.
The real average weekly earnings increased 0.7 percent over the month.
The rise in the hourly wage resulted from a 0.4 percent increase in average hourly earnings combined with a 0.1 percent decrease in the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers.
The CPI, also released Friday by the labor statistics bureau, measures the average change over time in the prices urban consumers pay for a market basket of consumer goods and services.
The CPI was unchanged in November. The seasonally adjusted decline in the all items index was caused by a sharp decrease in the gasoline index, which fell 7.5 percent in December. This decline more than offset increases in several indexes including shelter, food and other energy components.
The energy index fell 3.5 percent, as the gasoline and fuel oil indexes fell, but the indexes for natural gas and for electricity increased. The food index increased 0.4 percent in December.
Despite a strong labor market, wage growth has lagged economists’ expectations, according to Pew Research Center.
“The disconnect between the job market and workers’ paychecks has fueled much of the recent activism in states and cities around raising minimum wages, and it also has become a factor in at least some of [last] year’s congressional campaigns,” Pew said in a report.
Maine raised its minimum wage in January from $10 to $11 per hour.
Pew attributed the wage stagnation to a number of factors, including rising benefit costs, the continuing decline of labor unions, lagging educational attainment relative to other countries and broad employment declines in the manufacturing and production sectors with a consequent shift toward job growth in low-wage industries.
New president named for Bridgton, Rumford hospitals
Central Maine Healthcare has named a new president for its Rumford and Bridgton hospitals following upheaval after the former president for the hospitals resigned five months ago.
The new Peter Wright, will start in mid-March. He formerly was president and CEO at Valley Regional Healthcare in Claremont, New Hampshire.
Former President R. David From resigned last August after disagreements between the two hospitals and parent Central Maine Healthcare came to a head last March over management changes and a new electronic health care data management system.
Wright spent his whole career in northern New England and understands the nature of rural health care, according to Central Maine Healthcare.
“He’s proven highly successful instilling a strong clinical culture and prioritizes heightened communication, transparency and accountability,” Dr. David Tupponce, executive vice president of Central Maine Health, said in a prepared statement.
“For 18 years, I have dedicated my career toward working with communities to add value and improve health in rural areas of northern New England,” Wright said. We are there to serve, and it is critically important that we are an integral part of every aspect of what happens locally.”
Anthem hires new president of commercial business
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine said Thursday that it has hired Denise McDonough as president of its commercial business in Maine.
She was previously regional vice president of sales for the New Hampshire commercial plan, where she focused on growth and retention of customers. She joined the company as director of sales in New Hampshire in 2010. She also was in sales management at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care for 13 years.
“Denise brings … a commitment to making health care simpler and improving the lives of the people in the communities we serve,” Brian Shipp, president of Anthem’s East and Central Region Commercial Business, said in a statement.