The Lost Decade?

Yesterday, researchers at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a new analysis of wage trends in the United States, and they found that a majority of US workers have endured more than a decade of wage stagnation. For example, wages for the bottom fifth of earners fell 4.5 percent between 2000 and 2012, while the median earner saw her wages remain virtually unchanged. In fact, during this period, the entire bottom 70 percent of the wage distribution saw wages either decline or stagnate. EPI’s research confirms that the economy has failed to provide real wage gains for all but high-wage earners in the periods before, during, and after the Great Recession.

It is a sobering — but worthwhile — read, and it highlights a serious economic challenge that is confronting workers here in California. As part of an upcoming report to be released for Labor Day, we will be looking at recent wage trends for California’s workers. In the meantime, our 2011 chartbook A Generation of Widening Inequality provides a detailed look into what’s been going on with Californians’ wages over the past three decades.

— Luke Reidenbach