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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Improved policies could boost purchasing power for U.S. households

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Thursday, January 18, 2024   

It is a neck and neck race in the U.S. between consumer prices and wages allowing the typical worker to keep up.

Economic data show consumer prices have increased 20% since the fourth quarter of 2019 while wages have grown by 23%. Findings from the Center for American Progress showed late last year, nearly six in 10 workers were earning higher annual wages, when adjusted for inflation, than the year before.

Brendan Duke, senior director for economic policy at the Center for American Progress, said real wage growth means a lot more people have purchasing power, even if consumer prices have been stubbornly high, and it appears to be benefiting those who need it the most.

"Low-wage workers have actually been doing the best over the last year or two," Duke reported. "They've seen the strongest wage growth."

In general, New Mexico has a lower labor force participation rate than the national average, regardless of age, sex, race and ethnicity, or veteran status. A November 2022 analysis by the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee found nearly one-quarter of New Mexicans are of working age but not employed.

Duke pointed out further addressing family expenses like child care costs and housing affordability could benefit workers and affect their take-home pay.

"They don't show up in the wages," Duke noted. "But when you compare your income and your costs, reducing those costs can obviously make a huge difference."

The analysis showed coming out of the pandemic, real wage growth for the average worker was the second-fastest since 1980. The New Mexico legislative report found access to affordable health care raises labor supply and supports workers' performance.


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