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The declining fortunes of (most) American workers

Laura Harvey and James Rockey ()

Discussion Papers from Department of Economics, University of Birmingham

Abstract: While real US GDP per capita has increased around 80% since 1980, median incomes have remained roughly constant. This paper documents that: 1) This stagnation masks an important intergenerational decline — more recent generations have earned less than less recent ones. 2) This decline is largest amongst white males without college educations. But, we find evidence for similar declines amongst those with college educations. The decline is also sufficiently large to more than offset reductions in the racial and gender wage gaps. 3) Quantile regression estimates suggest that on average only women and non-Whites in the lowest quantiles have seen growth in real incomes, the majority have experienced real declines. 4) Exploiting state and industry variation in workforce composition we obtain race and gender-specific labor share estimates. These data suggest that intergenerational declines in the labor share can account for much of the decline in earnings. 5) We find some evidence that intergenerational reductions in the labor share are due to increased import competition, but no correlation with unionization.

Keywords: Wages; Intergenerational Differences; Labor Share; Stagnation; Jobs (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D31 D33 E24 J24 J31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 55 pages
Date: 2022-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-lma and nep-mac
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Working Paper: The declining fortunes of (most) American workers (2020) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:bir:birmec:22-07

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