You might have missed this little gem among all the hubbub over factory orders and corporate profits, but real wages in the United States have been on a slow but steady decline for four months now.
Total private average hourly earnings in 1982 dollars -- let's just call them "real wages" for short -- hit their recent peak in November 2003, when the average American was making $8.32/hr. (remember, these are 1982 dollars; in 2003 dollars that's $15.46/hr.). The March 2004 figure has slid down to $8.24/hr., about a 1% fall in wages in just four months.
Of course, we're still nowhere near the all-time real wages high of $9.08/hr. (in 1982 dollars) set way back in January 1973.