Wage growth has been the missing link throughout a period that has produced more than 18.5 million new jobs, including 209,000 in July.
But Amy Glaser, who helps run Adecco Staffing, believes the befuddled policymakers, politicians and economists — not to mention the workers themselves — looking for pay to surge won't have to wait much longer.
As she interacts with clients hungry to hire new employees, Glaser said she sees a climate where companies are going to have no choice but to start jacking up compensation in order to meet a changing climate. Adecco is the largest staffing firm in the world and specializes in connecting employers with workers.
"The demand for labor in this market is intensely high," she said. "In every discussion I'm having with my clients, wages are the No. 1 topic. I expect a substantial uptick in the average hourly earnings potential."
So far, substantial moves in the metric Glaser mentioned have been elusive.
In the most recent report on nonfarm payrolls growth, issued Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said average hourly earnings rose 9 cents an hour, good for a 0.3 percent monthly gain that translates into a 2.53 percent annualized increase.
That's not exactly poor, and indeed is more than 1 percentage point higher than the current inflation rate. However, it has been running below a level that makes policymakers, like those at the Federal Reserve, comfortable. The Fed is the process of gradually raising interest rates, but is looking for stronger signs of "good" inflation to bolster the case for policy normalization after years of cheap money used to stimulate the economy.