Economic Snapshot | Wages, Incomes, and Wealth

Lagging recovery of construction and manufacturing sectors is one more reason wage growth is suffering for most workers

The economy has added nearly 5 million jobs in the private sector since the Great Recession began in December 2007, but construction and manufacturing—two key sectors that provide good jobs and high wages, particularly for workers without 4-year college degrees—continue to lag behind the recovery. In December 2015, there were still 2.5 million fewer workers in construction and manufacturing than at the start of the Great Recession, accounting for more than three-fourths (77.3 percent) of total job losses since December 2007.

economic snapshot

Lagging recovery of construction and manufacturing sectors is one more reason wage growth is suffering for most workers: Compensation in construction and manufacturing compared with industries that have gained jobs since the Great Recession

Wages Benefits
Construction $28.01  $8.86
Manufacturing $28.71  $8.53
All industries that have gained jobs $23.80  $5.48 
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Source: EPI analysis of BLS Current Employment Statistics and Employment Cost Trends public data series.

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Industries that have gained jobs since the beginning of the recession pay substantially less than construction and manufacturing industries. Hourly pay in job-gaining industries is $23.80 on average, versus $28.01 in construction and $28.71 in manufacturing. Total compensation (which includes both wages and all benefits) in job-gaining industries is $29.28, while compensation in construction and manufacturing is $36.87 and $37.24, respectively.

While the trend of wage stagnation is long standing and broad based, boosting job growth in industries that traditionally provide strong wages for the bottom 70 percent of working people would help a lot. For example, investments in infrastructure and policy action to stem rising trade deficits would do much to help the overall economy and restore jobs to two well-paying sectors that badly need them.


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