Jobs & Wages

Income Growth by Income Group: Minnesota vs. U.S.

Minnesota fared better than the national average in terms of income growth since the Great Recession, based on Census Bureau data summarized in a September 21 North Star article. A deeper dive into another batch of recently released data from the American Community Survey (ACS) shows that within every income group, average incomes in Minnesota…

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U.S. and Minnesota Poverty Rates Down in 2015

In addition to showing sharp growth in income and earnings in 2015, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau released last month also showed a significant reduction in poverty, both in Minnesota and the nation as a whole. With the improvements shown in the new data, Minnesota now ranks among the bottom three states in…

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Union Jobs Pay Better Wages

The trend of stagnant and declining wages for low- and moderate-wage workers coincides with the decline of union membership, as demonstrated in the first part of this article. Both of these trends also coincide with a long-term pattern of anemic economic performance. Reversal of these trends will involve a restoration of workers’ rights to organize…

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How Wage Stagnation Contributes to a Lackluster National Economy

Wage stagnation—a major contributor to income inequality in the U.S.—is a particular problem for workers at the middle and lower end of the wage scale. While the wages of workers in high-wage jobs has continued to grow in recent decades, the wages of low- and moderate-wage workers have been stagnant, and have actually declined since…

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2015 Earnings Finally Surpass Pre-Great Recession Levels

Median earnings among Americans have finally exceeded pre-Great Recession levels, according to 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 Current Population Survey (CPS), thanks to strong growth from 2014 to 2015. Growth in earnings was a major contributor to the substantial growth in total income, described in part one and part two of this…

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Racial Income Gap Persists Despite 2015 Income Growth

Median household income in Minnesota grew significantly from 2014 to 2015, based on Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) data summarized in part two of this series. Growth among minority groups was particularly strong, although this fact by itself does not tell the whole story. Even after adjusting for inflation, the median household income of…

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Minnesota’s Working Poor Still Hurting

About a quarter of a million Minnesota workers had cause to celebrate earlier this week, as the state’s minimum wage increased. However, millions of workers in Minnesotans and other states are still stuck in low wage jobs that do not adequately compensate them for the essential work they do. While Minnesota workers are doing modestly…

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Fiscal Policy Doesn’t Explain Below Average Employment Growth

Minnesota has lagged modestly behind the national average in terms of employment growth during the 21st century. However, there is no reason to blame Minnesota’s sub-par employment growth upon progressive fiscal policy. Rather, the state’s below average job growth is explicable—and even defensible—in terms of other labor force realities in the state versus the rest…

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The Economic Case for Reducing Income Inequality

The trend in declining wages and increased income inequality has been well documented, most recently in a July 18 North Star article. Concern over these trends goes beyond the gut level response to the impropriety of concentrating a larger and larger share of societal wealth within a smaller and smaller slice of the population. There…

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Minnesota Wage Growth Stronger Under Progressive Policies

Conservatives have blamed “blue-state” policies for what they consider to be lackluster performance by Minnesota’s economy during the 21st century. However, wage growth in Minnesota has been slightly stronger vis-à-vis the national and adjacent state averages under recently enacted progressive policies than under the conservative policies that preceded them. As noted in the first article…

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