California’s Sinking Center: How the Economic Recovery Is Leaving California’s Midwage Earners Behind

California's Sinking Center_coverA persistent challenge for California workers in the years immediately following the Great Recession was the lack of wage growth. Even as the labor market continued to rebound and unemployment fell, workers across the wage distribution continued to lose ground as the purchasing power of their wages eroded.

Data for 2014 suggest that while wage erosion may have finally halted for some workers, this was not true for the worker at the middle of the wage distribution – the median earner – who continued to see an erosion in her hourly wage last year. What’s more, workers earning around the median wage – those at the 40th and 60th percentile – also are continuing to see a decline in the purchasing power of their wages. This continues a decades-long trend of the state’s economic growth not leading to broad-based wage growth for California workers.

Even at a time when workers are better trained, more educated, and more productive than ever, California’s median wage continues to lose ground, and wage inequality continues to worsen.

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