The web browser you’re using is out of date and does not support the technology needed for this interactive feature. Click to view browser upgrade options.
Sorry, this interactive feature requires your web browser to be wider. Please visit us on your desktop computer, increase the width of your browser window, or click here to open a standalone version.
While in the long run real wage growth depends on productivity and the distribution of gains from productivity, over shorter time horizons wage growth can be determined by the supply and demand for labor. When there is extensive slack in the economy—such as during a recession or the early phase of a recovery, when labor and capital are underutilized—wage growth can be temporarily lower. At these times, there are more unemployed workers and hiring demand is low, both of which put downward pressure on wages.
Each month, The Hamilton Project has examined the “jobs gap,” which is the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needed to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while also absorbing the people who entered the potential labor force each month. The jobs gap closed in July 2017.
A substantial share of American workers must obtain a license from a state or local government to work in their professions. The share of workers nationwide required to have a license has risen dramatically since the 1950s, from just 5 percent to nearly 30 percent in 2008. This chart shows the share of the workforce that is licensed in every state based on estimates from a Harris poll conducted in the first half of 2013.
Each month, The Hamilton Project calculates America’s “jobs gap,” or the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while accounting for changes in the population. In this chart, The Hamilton Project applies the same jobs gap methodology to earlier recessions in 1981–82, 1990–91, 2001, and 2007–09.
Graduates of majors with initially low earnings experience faster earnings growth during the early-career years.
The U.S. minimum wage now stands at 38 percent of the median wage, the third-lowest among OECD countries.