The average first year wage settlement increased for both public and private sector unions in the third quarter of 2023. Unions have been able to bargain an average 6.3% wage increase in the public sector, and a 7.2% wage increase in the private sector. The average for the year so far is 5.3% for the private sector and 4.4% for the public sector. While these increases are improving, they still fall short of the 6.8% inflation we experienced in 2022.
The Consumer Price Index rose by 3.1% in October 2023, a welcome slowdown compared to 3.8% in September. Even so, the cost of rent, home ownership, and food are still increasing faster than the overall average, and these three factors continue to be the largest contributors to year-over-year increases in CPI. These increases in the cost of basic necessities are squeezing workers across the income spectrum, but especially those workers who were already spending a disproportionate amount of their income on housing and food.