The lowest-wage workers lost nearly 8 million jobs in 2020, while the highest-wage workers gained nearly a million: Employment change from 2019 to 2020, by wage level

Wage quartile bin Employment change (actual) Employment change (if proportionate)
Lowest fourth -7,885,537 -2,401,615
Second fourth -3,270,060 -2,401,511
Third fourth 568,436 -2,401,593
Highest fourth 980,955 -2,401,487

Notes: Wages adjusted for inflation using the CPI-U-RS. Employment changes in blue are calculated between 2019 and 2020 in the quartiles set by the 2019 data. Red dots reflect employment changes in 2020 if they were proportionate to the 2019 employment shares. A small amount of noise was added to the wage data when setting wage quartiles to minimize clumping at particular values to ensure equal bin size.

Source: Elise Gould and Jori Kandra’s analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata, in Wages Grew in 2020 Because the Bottom Fell Out of the Low-Wage Labor Market (Economic Policy Institute, February 2021).

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