Why Do Different Wage Series Tell Different Stories?
The average wage is a key aspect of the economic well-being in a society. Several alternative wage measures based upon official government statistics are available to analysts. Although these series always have differed in their relative levels, since the mid-1970's their trends have diverged markedly. This paper, which summarizes and updates our earlier work (Abraham et al., 1998), has several goals: to describe several commonly used hourly wage series; to characterize differences in their trends; and to evaluate alternative explanations for these differences.