The big-picture numbers that people rely on to describe how the economy is doing currently look pretty good: Unemployment is around 5 percent (which is considered very healthy by economists, because there will always be some people changing jobs in a good economy), and hundreds of thousands of jobs are being added every month.
But another important metric, wage growth, has been sluggish compared with pre-recession levels. On average, workers simply aren’t seeing their pay increase as quickly as it has at other times. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, real average hourly earnings increased by 1.8 percent in 2015. In a better year, earnings might rise 3 or 4 percent.
While a lot of workers are wondering when they’ll get their next raise, there are a number of Americans whose paychecks are increasing much more swiftly. In fact, if the BLS were to calculate earnings growth only for full-time workers who have been in the workforce for a while and aren’t retiring, it would come out closer to 4 percent—more than twice the average for all workers. “When you look at different sectors and different segments of the workforce, it really gives you a different picture of the wage growth,” says Ahu Yildirmaz, the lead economist at ADP Research Institute, the payroll processor that puts together the private-sector jobs report.