Wages and the recovery

As the job market slowly begins to improve, people are directing more attention how much jobs are paying. But has pay been recovering along with jobs? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden answers.

“Unfortunately not. … If you look at a new study that’s looked at wages that workers receive over the last couple of years and how they’ve changed, wages unfortunately have still been going down. And in fact there’s an inverse relationship unfortunately between the size of the drop in wages and what you’re earning. That is, lower-income wage earners seem to be getting a bigger drop.

“In fact, their drop has been around 3 percent over the last couple of years, whereas higher income earners are still seeing a drop but slightly lower – around 2 percent.

“If you look at particular occupations and where the biggest drop in wages (has) occurred, we see that’s in the food and health-care industries. For example, restaurant cooks, their wages are down a whopping 7 percent over the last couple of years. Personal care and home health aides, down about 5 percent.

“So, yes, we have had some good news on jobs. Jobs are increasing. But I think we’ve not seen, unfortunately, the same for wages.”

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