Hiring is up, the unemployment rate is down and wages are growing again. Everyone should be feeling pretty good about the economy, right?
Not so fast. Some groups are still earning lower wages than they were in 2000, when the economy was at the end of the previous economic expansion. During the current recovery, wages are finally growing, yet a new analysis from the Economic Policy Institute highlights how those benefits aren’t being equally shared among all demographic groups.
Among those left behind are lower-earning college-educated workers. The bottom half of college grads earned less in 2016 than they did in 2000, which raises questions about recent conventional wisdom that a bachelor’s degree will provide handsome dividends over time.
That doesn’t mean college-educated workers of all stripes aren’t earning more than their less-educated counterparts -- they are. But the data provides a more nuanced picture of the post-recession economy and the concept of a skills-based market, where more-educated workers are pulling ahead.
“I don’t think it’s a skills story,” said Elise Gould, senior economist at EPI and author of the report. “Even if we look at people with a college degree, the bottom half have lower wages than in 2000. There is a pulling apart at the very top.”