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April 1985, Vol. 108, No. 4
Major agreements in 1984 provide
record low wage increases
In 1984, the size of wage adjustments under major collective bargaining agreements in private industry reached historic lows for the Bureau of Labor Statistics 17-year-old series.1 Settlements reached during the year provided adjustments (increases, decreases, and no wage change) averaging 2.4 percent for both the first year and annually over the life of the contracts. Adjustments peaked in 1981 and have declined steadily since. (See chart 1.) Wage adjustments actually put into effect during 1984, 3.7 percent on average, were also at a historic low.
Average wage adjustments under 1984 settlements were low because wages were frozen or reduced for a substantial proportion of workers, and average increases were the smallest ever. Such developments were not new, having first emerged as a result of 1981 negotiations. They were especially evident in 1982 settlements, and persisted in 1983 and 1984. (See table 1.)
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1 The major collective bargaining agreement series for private industry covers 7.3 million workers in bargaining units with at least 1,000 workers. For definitions of terms, see Current Labor Statistics, Wage and Compensation Data, pp. 98. Additional tabulations from this series appear in the April 1985 issue of the Bureau's Current Wage Developments.
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