Economic Snapshot | Wages, Incomes, and Wealth

Entry-level workers face lower wages

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Snapshot for February 17, 1999

Entry-level workers face lower wages

Some of the largest long-term wage declines have been among entry-level workers (i.e., those with up to five years’ work experience) with a high school education. Average wages for male entry-level high school graduates were 28% lower in 1997 than in 1979. For women, the decline was 18%.

Starting out with lower wages would not be as serious a problem if subsequent wage growth helped close the gap. Unfortunately, exactly the opposite trend has occurred. For most of the past 24 years, wages have fallen in many jobs and incomes are rising more slowly these days for workers as they get older.

The decline in wages for entry-level workers has also spread to those with a college degree. From 1990 to 1997, average hourly pay for college graduates fell 8% for men and 7% for women.

Source: EPI. (1997). “Prosperity Gap.”

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