Have Earnings Actually Declined?

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Released: March 2011 • Economic Analysis

Related Topics: Employment & Wages

Authors:

  • Adam LooneySenior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
  • Michael GreenstoneMilton Friedman Professor of Economics; Director of the Energy Policy Institute, University of Chicago
 
 

Introduction

The February employment numbers, released today by the U.S. Department of Labor, suggest modest improvement in the labor market. The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.9 percent and payroll employment jumped 192,000, the largest increase since the Census-boosted hiring last May.

As in previous months’ postings, The Hamilton Project updates America’s “job gap,” the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while absorbing the 125,000 people who enter the labor force each month. This month we also return to our examination of longer-term labor market trends by looking at the earnings of Americans during the past four decades.


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