Educational and occupational choices matter for your earnings, but where you work matters, too. Employment opportunities and wages in some occupations vary substantially from state to state, county to county, and city to city. One location might be a great place to earn a living as a nurse but not as a construction worker (e.g., New Orleans, Louisiana), while a different location might be the opposite (e.g., Utica, New York). In this economic analysis we look at some of the ways that typical earnings in an occupation—and the value of those earnings after adjusting for taxes and cost of living—vary across the United States. We also examine some of the reasons why places have such different labor markets.
Over the past few decades there have been troubling indications that dynamism and competition in the U.S. economy have declined. Markets are more concentrated than they were a few decades ago, and entrepreneurship is less common, with both the number and employment share of new firms well below the levels of previous decades. Carefully assessing these trends as they relate to public policy is necessary to achieving a more competitive, productive economy that generates broadly shared growth.
Workers with a license tend to receive a wage premium relative to unlicensed workers. Using new data from the Current Population Survey, Ryan Nunn examines the ways that licensing affects workers, as well as their wages, tenure, and part-time status by age, race, gender and wage level.
One simple question—are wages rising?—is as central to the health of our democracy as it is to the health of our economy. This book presents evidence and analysis that detail why wages have been stagnant for so many workers, while also identifying public policies that could effectively contribute to the growth in productivity and wages that are core parts of improving living standards for all Americans. These proposals include greater support for policies that increase human capital, boost worker mobility, strengthen worker bargaining power, and sustain robust labor demand.
For most of the period since the 1970s the United States has suffered from two trends: stagnant wages for most workers and rising inequality. In this paper, Heidi Shierholz focuses on the erosion of labor standards, institutions, and norms that has reduced the bargaining power of low- and moderate-wage workers. She proposes a suite of remedies to help strengthen worker bargaining power and increase wages.
One of the challenges of wage stagnation is asymmetric information, whereby employers have a greater knowledge of the distribution of wages relative to workers. This asymmetry of information is potentially suppressing wage growth as it limits workers’ ability and inclination to negotiate for higher pay. In this paper, Ben Harris advances a five-part proposal to improve wage transparency as a strategy for improving worker bargaining power, and ultimately, raising wages across the income distribution.