Have Earnings Actually Declined?


Released: March 2011 • Economic Analysis

Related Topics: Employment & Wages


  • Adam LooneyPolicy Director, The Hamilton Project
  • Michael GreenstoneThe Milton Friedman Professor in Economics; Director, Energy Policy Institute at Chicago, University of Chicago


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.

Downloads & Links

Hamilton Project Updates

A periodic newsletter of events, policy briefs, and working papers from The Hamilton Project.