Beyond the Wage Stagnation Story

Research Report

Beyond the Wage Stagnation Story

Better Measures Show America’s Workers Doing Better Than Previously Reported
August 11, 2015


Many major media outlets take as a given that the earnings of middle-class workers have not increased much for many years. The most commonly cited figure is the small 6 percent increase in median real hourly pay between 1979 and 2013. However, this paper finds that real median yearly compensation rose 38 percent over these years. This large discrepancy results from how data are examined in this paper: using yearly rather than hourly pay, including employer-provided benefits of payroll taxes and medical insurance and retirement contributions; and accounting for inflation with a different measure.

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