Wage growth typically indicates the final stages of a recovery, but if this is the peak of labor growth, former Bush advisor Ed Lazear worries it will not be felt among the U.S. population as much as it should be.
"If we look at the economy, it basically looks like we've peaked out and we've peaked out at a low level," the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush told CNBC.
And, with the employment rate "stuck" and lower job number increases relative to 2015, Lazear told "Squawk on the Street" that while "things are not terrible, they're not great."
Lazear noted the inconsistency in the year 2015 between the numbers — a pretty good year, by his standards — and how they affected the U.S. population, which he contended still felt like it lacked buying power.
"Primarily what's going on is we have more people working … but the point is we're working harder and we're not making a whole lot more," Lazear said.
Moving forward, Lazear would like to see a more significant increase in productivity, which jumped in October but remained flat year over year.
"To my mind, the only way to get [more sustained productivity growth] going is to see higher investment, to create a climate where businesses want to get capital expenditures growing again," the former chairman said.
"Without that, we're not going to see productivity growth; without productivity growth, we're not going to see wage growth," he added.