Wages

The vast majority of American households’ income comes from what workers receive in their paychecks – which is why wages are so important. Unfortunately, wages for most workers grew exceptionally slowly between 1979 and 2012, despite productivity—which essentially measures the economy’s potential for providing rising living standards for all—rising 64 percent. In other words, most Americans, even those with college degrees, have only been treading water—despite working more productively (and being better educated) than ever.

EARN groups provide key research and policy analysis describing how these trends have played out at the state and local levels, and what policymakers can do about it.

Publications

Growing Jobs, Stagnant Wages, Increasing Inequality and Rising Prices

By many measures, Washington’s economy has soared since the Great Recession. The state has added over 400,000 jobs since 2008 – more than making up for previous losses – and average hourly wages have climbed 13 percent after adjusting for inflation. However, those rosy numbers mask the fact that sluggish wage growth, increasing inequality and rising prices are leaving many Washington residents struggling.

State of Rural West Virginia

West Virginia’s population is increasingly living in urban areas, with those urban areas experiencing all the state’s job growth in the past quarter century, leaving rural West Virginia behind in many key areas, according to a new West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy report.

The report, State of Rural West Virginia, shows rural West Virginians primarily have poorer health, lower educational attainment levels, lower wages, are older and have fewer job opportunities outside of industrial and extractive industries, underscoring the contrast between the state’s rural and urban areas.

Rural West Virginia has been plagued with job losses from 2007 – 2016, losing more than 21,000 jobs, or eight percent, highlighting the uneven balance of West Virginia’s weak economic recovery.

Op-Ed: The Problem is Bad Jobs, Not Bad Workers

A full 30 percent of Kentuckians are working jobs that pay less than $12.50 an hour; fewer than half working in the private sector have an employer-sponsored retirement plan and just 44 percent have employer-sponsored health insurance. In economically distressed regions, even bad jobs are scarce.

Yet we often hear that the problem facing Kentucky is a lack of good workers. This “skills gap” explanation of Kentucky’s economic situation is not supported by the evidence, but you don’t have to take my word for it. When someone says Kentucky employers can’t fill jobs with good workers, ask “at what wage?”