Our current economic expansion has lasted almost nine years, yet wages have hardly budged, especially for less-skilled workers. Inflation-adjusted wages for the average worker have risen only by 3 percent since the 1970s — and have actually declined for the bottom fifth.
For a long time, the conventional wisdom was that wage growth had slowed because of rising competition from low-paid workers in foreign countries (globalization), as well as the replacement of workers with machinery, including robots (automation). But in recent years, economists have discovered another source: the growth of the labor market power of employers — namely, their power to dictate, and hence suppress, wages.
This new wisdom has displaced a longstanding assumption among economists that labor markets are competitive. In a competitive labor market, employers must vie for workers; they try to lure workers from other firms by offering them more generous compensation. As employers bid for workers, wages and benefits rise. An employer gains by hiring a worker whenever the worker’s wage is less than the revenue the worker will generate for the employer; for this reason, the process of competition among employers for workers ought to result in workers receiving a substantial portion of the output they contribute to.
Read more at Vox