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News from EPI Today’s young workers starting out at lower wages

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Phoebe Silag or Karen Conner, 202-775-8810


Today’s young workers starting out at lower wages

Whether high school graduate or college graduate, male or female, the inflation-adjusted wages for young workers new to the workforce were lower in 2011 than in 2000, reflecting the wage erosion during the recession and over the prior business cycle, according to data analyzed by Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), and released today.  Full data on young workers’ wages will be analyzed in the forthcoming book, The State of Working America 2012/2013, to be published in August.

The data show lower wages for entry-level workers across education groups between 2000 and 2007, with steep declines between 2007 and 2011.  The entry-level hourly wage of a young male high school graduate in 2011 was 25.3% less than that for the equivalent worker in 1979, a drop of roughly $4.00 per hour in 2011 dollars.  Among women, the entry-level high school wage fell 14.2% in this period, and dropped by $1.64 in 2011 dollars.

“Young workers’ prospects are a barometer of the strength of the labor market and their misfortune reflects the very disappointing wage growth for all workers, college and high school graduates alike, in the last decade,” said Mishel.

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