06/11/2014 07:39 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why You Might Finally Be Getting That Raise After All

The recovery might soon start to feel like a real recovery: There are hints that wages could finally start growing again after a long rut.

Stagnant wages have left most Americans feeling like the five years since the Great Recession officially ended weren't much of a recovery at all. This chart of wage growth pretty much tells the whole story:

No matter how many million jobs have been created in the past five years, no matter how many new records the Dow Jones Industrial Average has set, no matter how many billions of dollars Uber is worth, your stagnant wages speak the loudest, and they tell you this hasn't been much of a recovery.

There are some signs that this story might be about to change. Conor Sen, a portfolio manager at New River Investments and a prolific tweeter and blogger, tweeted this chart on Tuesday. It shows how wages and job openings typically track each other over time, and how there's a big gap between the two right now:

Job openings have been on the rise, so wages should be, too, according to Sen and Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal. The idea is that when companies have jobs to fill, they'll pay up to fill them.

For all our sakes, let's hope so. Even Wall Street might be starting to grumble about how lousy pay is hurting the economy.

Meanwhile, small businesses report they are increasingly hard-up for employees and plan on raising wages soon, according to another couple of charts Weisenthal published, from the National Federation of Independent Business:

In the first chart, the thick line shows how much small businesses have raised pay in the past three months. The thin line shows how much they plan to raise pay in the next three months. Both lines have almost climbed back to pre-recession levels, which is good news.

small biz comp

The second chart shows how "labor quality" is a rising problem for small businesses. Good help is hard to find, in other words -- meaning they might be willing to pay more for it.

small biz probs

Businesses have stepped up their hiring a bit in recent months, a hopeful sign. But the overall pace of hiring is still far below where it was before the recession, the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank focused on labor issues, noted on Tuesday.

There were 4.5 million job openings in March, but 9.8 million people trying to fill them, the EPI pointed out. In other words, there were more than two workers for every job opening. In a normal economy, those numbers would be closer to even. It's hard to imagine wages surging while there's still this much slack in the job market. But maybe we're at least seeing the early hints of such a surge.