Wage-Push Inflation

Written By
Paul Tracy
Updated August 5, 2020

What is Wage-Push Inflation?

Also called cost-push inflation or a wage-price spiral, wage-push inflation is an economic term that describes how prices increase when wages increase.

How Does Wage-Push Inflation Work?

The general idea behind a wage-push inflation is a simple one of supply and demand. People can do only two things with money: save it or spend it. If they have more money on hand, they likely will spend at least some of that money. Accordingly, putting more money in people's hands creates more demand for goods and services. Thus, something like a wage increase across the board (think, for example, of a rise in the minimum wage) creates more demand for goods and services and drives up the prices of those goods and services.

In turn, goods and services eventually begin to look expensive to people, and so they lobby for higher wages. The higher wages put more money in their hands, which in turn drives the prices of goods and services even higher.

Why Does Wage-Push Inflation Matter?

Wage-push inflation is a central part of many economic controversies and is a big part of Keynesian economic theory. Often, arguments against raising wages or for limiting the wage power of unions incorporate these ideas. Note too that the increased demand for goods and services can trickle across borders, driving up prices in countries that do not have increasing wages.