Rising wage inequality and sluggish hourly wage growth for the vast majority of workers have been defining features of the American labor market for nearly four decades, despite steady productivity growth. The U.S. economy of the last several years has been no exception. Although the unemployment rate continued to fall and participation in the labor market continued to grow over the last year, most workers are experiencing moderate wage growth and even workers who have seen more significant gains are just making up ground lost during the Great Recession and slow recovery rather than getting ahead.
This report analyzes data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and details the most up-to-date hourly wage trends through 2018 across the wage distribution and education categories, highlighting important differences by race and gender. By looking at real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) hourly wages by percentile, we can compare what is happening over time for the lowest-wage workers (those at the 10th and 20th percentiles) and for middle-wage workers (those at or near the 50th percentile) with wage trends for the highest-wage workers (those at the 90th and 95th percentiles).
– Economic Policy Institute