Occupational wage declines since the Great Recession: Low-wage occupations see largest real wage declines

by Claire McKenna and Irene Tung

On this Labor Day 2015, the U.S. labor market has shown considerable healing since the Great Recession. Private sector employment has expanded steadily, and the jobless rate has continued to fall. Yet, underlying weaknesses persist, as evidenced by the historically low employment rate of prime-age workers and the stubbornly high number of individuals unemployed for longer than six months. The “real” unemployment rate—which includes those working part time who want full-time work, and those who have stopped searching but if offered a job would take it—remains in excess of 10 percent.