Report | Wages, Incomes, and Wealth

Declining Wages for High School and College Graduates

Briefing Paper #31

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Numerous studies have shown that there were dramatic shifts in the wage structure,
sometimes characterized as rising wage inequality, in the 1980s.’ The wage gap between
more- and less-educated workers and between more- and less-experienced workers grew.
Moreover, wage inequality among workers with similar education levels and work
experience also grew. This rising wage inequality occurred at a time when average real
wages were not growing. The result, therefore, was falling real wages for many groups of

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