Real Earnings, Health Insurance and Pension Coverage, and the Distribution of Earnings, 1979-2009 [July 6, 2011]   [open pdf - 373KB]

From the Summary: "Worker pay and fringe benefits, such as employer contributions for health insurance or to a retirement plan, are indicators of a nation's economic well-being. An analysis of real weekly earnings (i.e., actual earnings adjusted for inflation) of all part-time and full-time and part-year and year-round workers shows that, from 1979 to 2009, real earnings increased by 24.4%, to $893 a week. During the same period, the real weekly earnings of workers employed full-time, year-round increased by 16.9%, to $1,098 a week. Although real earnings increased for workers at all earnings levels, the largest increase was for workers at the 95th percentile (i.e., workers with the highest earnings). From 1979 to 2009, the real weekly earnings of women increased more than the earnings of men. Thus, the earnings gap between men and women narrowed over the period. […] From 1979 to 2009, at the 20th and 40th percentiles, the real weekly earnings of men employed full-time, year-round either declined or were unchanged. Men at the lowest and second quintiles were more likely than other men to have lost health insurance coverage. At the lowest quintile, although the percentage of men who participated in an employer- or union-provided pension plan fell by 8.6%, the decline in participation was greater for middle-wage men. Among women employed full-time, year-round, real weekly earnings increased at all earnings levels from 1979 to 2009. The smallest increases were for women at the 20th and 40th percentiles."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33835
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